The TIA was designed by Jay Miner while he was working at Atari. I'd be very surprised if Atari did not hold whatever rights could be held. That being said, the rights that could be held to an IC design at the time were much more limited than they are today. Before the Washington treaty of 1989 and TRIPS, ICs were protected only by patents, not by copyright, ...


This answer elaborates a bit on the answers by @Raffzahn and @thrust26. The answer by @thrust26 is correct. The alien sprites are not positioned by repeated RESP0 or RESP1 triggers as the code below shows. The book "Racing the beam" mentions the following in a section about sprites: Rick Maurer, the programmer for the VCS port of Space Invaders, ...


Late to the party, but I think wrong information should be corrected. The Space Invader sprites are simply displayed using 3 copies of each of the two sprites. The RESPx trick was first shown in Galaxian three years later.

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