Court Docs Reveal Donkey Kong Could Have Been Named Kong Dong

Nintendo court documents reveal that the iconic character Donkey Kong had alternative proposed names, including “Kong Dong”. These details emerged from a 1983 lawsuit between Universal and Nintendo over the Donkey Kong name, which Universal claimed was derived from their King Kong property. This case highlighted numerous names Nintendo considered before settling on Donkey Kong.

Historical Context

In the early 1980s, Universal Studios brought a lawsuit against Nintendo, alleging that the name Donkey Kong infringed upon their rights to King Kong. These court proceedings, documented in 1983, reflected the period’s struggle for intellectual property rights within the burgeoning video game industry. Despite Universal’s claims, Nintendo ultimately prevailed in the case, retaining full ownership of the Donkey Kong character.

Court Document Insights

Gaming historian Norman Caruso originally scanned and uploaded the court documents in 2020. Recently, they were revisited by Supper Mario Broth, shedding light on the names considered for Donkey Kong, such as Funny Kong, Kong the Kong, Jack Kong, Bill Kong, Steel Kong, and many others, including the controversial “Kong Dong”.

Judicial Findings

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The judge presiding over the case noted differences between Donkey Kong and King Kong. Donkey Kong was described as “farcical and nonsexual,” contrasting sharply with King Kong’s portrayal as a ferocious and questing gorilla. The judge highlighted Donkey Kong’s humorous antics, like jumping and teasing Mario, distinguishing it from King Kong’s aggressive behavior and tragic end.

The judge concluded that Donkey Kong was, “at best”, a parody and thus not an infringement on Universal’s rights. This ruling allowed Nintendo to continue using and developing the character without legal repercussions.

Future Prospects

Moving beyond the legal battles of the 1980s, Donkey Kong remains a significant part of Nintendo’s lineup. Donkey Kong is set to return on January 16, 2025, with a re-release of the Wii classic Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Nintendo Switch.

Wrapping Up

The legal history of Donkey Kong and the various names considered for the character provide a fascinating glimpse into the development of iconic video game properties. For more updates on gaming history and upcoming releases, visit HitPlay.

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