NEW COMPANY ACQUIRES WILLAIMS RIGHTS


Date: 13th October 2010

In 2005, Pinball News broke the news of the sale to Mr Pinball Australia (Wayne Gillard) of various assets and licences to manufacture parts and whole games under the Bally Brand.

The deal included the rights to licence parts manufacturers and distributors to produce and sell Williams-branded products, subject to approval by Williams Electronic Games.

Now we can report that those rights have been sold to a new company, Planetary Pinball Supply.

The PPS logo
The PPS logo

Planetary Pinball Supply (PPS) is a joint venture company set up by Rick Bartlett of Bay Area Amusements and pinball collector Matt Christiano, based in San Jose, California, USA.

The new company assumes the rights to manufacture new and existing parts, as well as the rights to make whole machines under the Bally name. The Pinball Factory name will no longer be used, but the current business of Mr Pinball Australia - repair, machines and parts sales - will continue and they will be a distributor for PPS products.

In addition, PPS have taken over the pinball.com website along with pinball2000.com and pin2000.com which now all point to the PPS site..

Rick is keen to stress how PPS differs from Bay Area Amusements. Although the new company shares the same registered address, Bay Area will act as distributors for PPS, just like various other companies around the world.

Doubt remains over the prospects for the proposed Medieval Madness re-make planned by Wayne several years ago. With the rights to build games transferred to PPS, any future manufacturing of games would have to be done as a licensee of PPS and sold through them.

PPS produced a press release today and a FAQ to answer some of the more pressing concerns of pinball collectors.

Here are both, starting with the press release:

SAN JOSE, California (Oct 13, 2010) - Planetary Pinball Supply, Inc (PPS,
http://www.planetarypinball.com) is pleased to announce that it has completed
an agreement with Mr. Pinball Australia (The Pinball Factory) to assign and
transfer it's Williams Electronics Games, Inc. Licenses, as well as to acquire
its pinball spare parts manufacturing and distribution business.

Planetary Pinball Supply, Inc (PPS) is a new company with headquarters in San
Jose, California dedicated to the manufacture and distribution of Williams®
and Bally® replacement pinball parts as well as to explore options for
manufacturing new or re-issued games under the Bally Trademark. PPS will
continue to operate www.pinball.com to showcase its products and will continue to
provide Williams/Bally product support and technical information. In addition PPS
will continue with the forum and other information and activities to promote more
interest in pinball at www.pinball.com.

PPS will leverage and expand the pinball parts development, manufacturing and
distribution network setup by Mr. Pinball Australia. To this end, PPS will serve
all existing Mr. Pinball Australia customers.

"We are excited about the opportunity to utilize the Williams Electronics
Games, Inc. intellectual property license which will help further accelerate
new parts into the market." said Rick Bartlett, President of PPS, who with
partner Matt Christiano will manage the new company.

Mr. Pinball Australia will continue to operate as a Pinball Game retailer,
repair, and local spare parts business and becomes a distributor for PPS.
For more information, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on our
site at www.planetarypinball.com or contact:

Planetary Pinball Supply, Inc
Rick Bartlett
rick@planetarypinball.com
phone: 408-426-4510


Here is the FAQ from Planetary Pinball Supply:

Q: Who/What is Planetary Pinball Supply, Inc.?

A: Planetary Pinball Supply, Inc (PPS) is a new company that will be focused on
the manufacture, sales, and distribution of replacement WEG/BLY pinball parts and
potentially new pinball games. PPS is a licensee of Williams Electronics Games,
Inc. (WEG) and as such has the rights to use WEG copyright and trademark
material. PPS also has been assigned 40 active pinball patents from Mr. Pinball
Australia Pty Ltd (MPBA).


Q: Who is part of PPS?

A: PPS was founded by Rick Bartlett and Matt Christiano. Both are very active
in the pinball community - Rick started and runs Bay Area Amusements as well as
owns a number of games, and Matt is an avid collector as well as board member of
the Las Vegas Pinball Hall Of Fame Museum. Both have high tech backgrounds and
have worked at several Silicon Valley companies for many years.


Q: What is the deal between Mr. Pinball Australia and Planetary Pinball?

A: PPS has acquired the pinball spare parts manufacturing and distribution
business from Mr. Pinball Australia. In addition, Mr. Pinball Australia assigns
and transfers it's Williams Electronics Games, Inc. license to PPS which enables
PPS to make Williams®/Bally® spare parts using WEG Intellectual Property.
Included are the rights to manufacture and sell new Pinball games under the Bally
mark and logo. PPS assumes all the existing MPBA parts supplier agreements.


Q: When was this deal announced and what was the timing around it?

A: The deal was closed early October, 2010 and was announced a few days later.
Confidential discussions began in the summer of 2010.


Q: Is Williams Electronics Games, Inc. involved in this?

A: Absolutely. Williams Electronics Games, Inc. (WEG) controls the rights to
make pinball parts and games under the Williams and Bally trademarks, as well as
the copyrights to all Williams and Bally (BLY) games and associated parts. WEG
licensed the rights to make spare parts for all the existing Williams and Bally
games, as well as the rights to manufacture new games under the Bally mark and
logo to MPBA. These rights were transferred to PPS in October, 2010.

WEG continues to be the authority for approval of new WMS/BLY licensed parts and
products, and PPS will work with WEG as its licensee. In addition, as with any
licensee, PPS is obligated to notify WEG of any infringing activity that it
becomes aware of.

Q: How is Bay Area Amusements related to PPS?

A: Planetary Pinball Supply, Inc and Bay Area Amusements, LLC (BAA) are separate
companies, with different ownership. PPS is focused on Williams/Bally parts
manufacture and distribution and will explore how to make new game titles
available. Bay Area Amusements sells parts for all game platforms beyond WMS/BLY
and sells directly to the end customer. PPS will continue to supply the current
set of Mr. Pinball Australia distributors and will continue to expand
distribution as appropriate. BAA is one of those distributors and therefore will
be a distributor of PPS.

PPS will operate independently (separate inventory, separate financials).
However, PPS will leverage certain logistical capabilities of BAA which can help
lower costs of parts to our customers. PPS will sell to all distributors on an
equal basis.


Q: Where is PPS located?

A: PPS is headquartered in San Jose, CA and will operate out of 3 different
facilities which are already operational.


Q: Is PPS yet another Online Pinball Store?

A: PPS is primarily focused on manufacturing and wholesale distribution of
WMS/BLY parts, and as such we will build upon the distribution model of Mr.
Pinball Australia Pty Ltd. We will operate an online retail presence primarily to
showcase the replacement parts that we supply.


Q: When will we see the first parts from PPS?

A: Immediately - the existing array of parts (artwork, molded parts,
common parts, etc) are available from PPS and we have been working for the last
few months to build up the capabilities needed to pick up what Mr. Pinball
Australia has developed and build from there. We will also soon be announcing a
series of new products as well as capabilities to further drive additional
products into the market.


Q: Why is this good for Pinball?

A: There are a number of reasons. First, the principals of PPS are passionate
Pinball enthusiasts who are both familiar with the pinball community as well as
the pinball marketplace. Second, we are working on accelerating the introduction
of parts into the marketplace and can take advantage of a US-based business to
speed up time and lower costs. Finally, with Mr. Pinball Australia, parts would
need to be shipped from manufacturing sites in the US and then re-shipped back to distributors, often in the US. The net result will be lower costs and quicker
delivery to distributors, and hence to the end customers - the pinball owners.


Q: So PPS is now the WMS licensee - what does that mean?

A: It means that we are able to manufacture, sell, and distribute replacement
pinball parts for Williams/Bally games . Our license also allows for the
manufacture of new pinball games (new titles or remakes) under the Bally mark and
logo. We also have access to WMS Intellectual Property (parts drawings, artwork,
etc) which will help us to create additional parts needed in the marketplace.


Q: Is The Pinball Factory no longer in business?

A: Mr. Pinball Australia Pty Ltd (their official name) remains in business
selling pinball games, parts, and accessories in the local Australian market.
They will no longer operate under the name "The Pinball Factory". PPS did not
acquire the company but the license to the WMS Intellectual Property rights and
their distribution business and spare parts inventory.


Q: Will PPS make games?

A: PPS has acquired the right to produce (with WEG approval) new pinball machines
under the Bally mark and logo. We will explore options to bring a limited number
of new or re-issued games to the market. In the short term, however, we will
focus on increasing the number of replacement parts which are available to
preserve the games which are out there.


Q: What happens to pinball.com?

A: pinball.com, pin2000.com, pinball2000.com have been transferred to, and will
be managed by PPS. The sites will continue to have original WMS downloads, game
information, technical information as they had before.


Q: What can companies or individuals do with respect to rightfully producing
parts?

A: Parts that fall under WEG or Bally copyrights, Trademarks, or existing
current patents cannot be produced and sold without explicit permission by
Williams Electronics Games, Inc or its licensees. Parts covered by active patents
or games utilizing parts under such patents cannot be produced without explicit
agreement by the patent holder. PPS has about 40 active original WEG patents
assigned.


Q: Is PPS just another company to harass pinball people for making parts?
A: No, PPS is dedicated to bringing replacement parts to the market. But there
are business realities. First of all, PPS is under obligation to notify WEG of
copyright and trademark infringements discovered by PPS. Second, there is
significant investment in any pinball parts business as well as significant
financial risk relative to small run pinball parts, limited demand for parts, and
complexity and time required to make parts.

PPS will actively support (as did Mr. Pinball Australia) the use of contract
manufacturers to create licensed parts. If you have a product idea or capability
which might benefit the pinball community please contact us and work with us to
make the product available thru legitimate channels. We see this as a great way
to get more parts into the marketplace, so we will continue and expand as
appropriate.

In addition, there needs to be a chain for quality and safety for the parts.
Often there are infringing parts which are sub-standard and this hurts the
overall pinball hobby. With PPS, all parts are run through the approval process
to insure the best part is able to reach the market.


Q: The Pinball world seems have a lot of Politics, Camps, etc - is PPS just
another?

A: PPS will focus on the development of parts and possibly games for
the pinball market. Historically, the PPS founders have personally straddled all
of the various 'camps' as our primary focus was to work with any suppliers who
could help provide badly needed parts into the market.

We will work within the industry and seek advice from all that we can
- including of course the pinball enthusiast, collector, owner, operator, and
small businesses that support this market.

There is natural competition, but we also see a large demand for new replacement
parts. Our goal is to bring as many new replacement parts to the market as is
practical.

We will bring you more news on this development as we receive it here at Pinball News.

 

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