Back in 2017, the makers of Humvee military vehicles sued Activision Publishing for using Humvees in Call of Duty titles without permission of Humvee. The makers of Humvee were seeking millions in missed revenue opportunities from Activision not getting permission to use Humvee in their titles.
Humvee vehicles have been used in more than just Call of Duty games; they have been used in TV shows and movies and the outcome of this lawsuit could impact all of those industries not just Call of Duty titles.
Activision finally responded to the lawsuit in a new filing with courts on Friday, May 31 saying that the lawsuit is a direct attack on First Amendment Rights.
“This case is nothing less than a direct attack on the First Amendment right to produce creative works that realistically depict contemporary warfare,” opens a summary judgment motion filed by Activision. “AM General LLC, a government contractor that manufactured military ‘HMMWV’ (or ‘Humvee’) vehicles for the U.S. military, seeks to use trademark law to control the mere depiction of those vehicles in Defendants’ fictional Call of Duty video games. The use of purported trademark rights to restrict the content of expressive works is dangerous under any circumstance. But the claims in this case are particularly egregious because they involve a U.S. military vehicle paid for by American taxpayers and deployed in every significant military conflict for the past three decades.”
Activision goes on to claim that the company never stated that the vehicles are actually Humvees and that the company is not competing with AM General in any way in the businesses that they both operate in.
HUMVEE® has been featured in every Call of Duty game almost, being prominently used in the titles’ campaigns and backgrounds of multiplayer maps.
The lawsuit from AM General, the makers of Humvee, included Activision, Activision Blizzard, and Major League Gaming Corp, all of which are all owned by Activision Blizzard Inc.
AM General filed a brief responding to Activision’s lengthy response claiming that the company has profited from Call of Duty using HUMVEE without every seeking permission.
“A defendant who engages in willful infringement may not invoke laches,” states AM’s brief, which can be read here. “[T]he evidence is undisputed that Activision acted willfully. The evidence comes from Activision’s own documents, its executives’ deposition testimony, and its own conduct. The evidence proves that Activision used the HUMVEE® Trade Dress knowing that it had no right to do so, knowing that it was unlawful to do so, yet intending to reap a substantial benefit from its widespread, unauthorized use.”
AM General’s brief that was filed is redacted in many areas by a judge, so it’s hard to depict some of the information they are trying to argue on. One section states that “although many military aircraft and vehicles appear in those of the Call of Duty games that are set in current and near-future times, the HUMVEE® vehicle is the only military vehicle that appears in every one of them. In fact, so valuable is the HUMVEE® vehicle to the Call of Duty franchise that Activision’s president admitted that..” The rest of that is redacted, as Activision executives deposition in this case is not available.
SOURCE: Hollywood Reporter
Report: Activision Blizzard HQ & Treyarch offices set to relocate
A new report states Activision Blizzard will no longer lease its office space in Santa Monica and are actively searching for a new HQ location.
DoTEsports reports that Activision Blizzard and Treyarch have ended their lease at their Santa Monica HQ offices. The company has had the office under their lease for more than a decade.
Per the new report, the teams that work in those spaces will work from home until further notice.
The company is reportedly in search of a new space. An internal memo, which was sent to staff and obtained by DoTEsports, states the company is actively looking for a new office space in the Santa Monica area.
“We have narrowed down the search for our next office location to several properties in the Santa Monica area and we hope to finalize our plans in the coming weeks,” the internal company communication said.
Activision employees have been working from home since March 2020. As of now, the company says they’re on track to return to office by September 1, 2021. The timeline remains unchanged.
Activision’s main headquarters was located in the Santa Monica office on Ocean Blvd in California. Treyarch’s studio space was located right next door to Activision Blizzard HQ in Santa Monica on the first floor of an office building. The two used those buildings for over 10 years now, and are now up for rental and purchase.
Activision has not commented on this information as of now.
Investment group calls out Activision for CEO payout
Activision Blizzard’s CEO continues to rake in bonus after bonus, and now investment firms are questioning the decisions.
An investment firm, CtW, issued a statement report directed at Activision for upcoming bonus pay for their CEO, Bobby Kotick, which is valued at a remarkable $200 million.
The report states that an SEC filing and agreement between Activision Blizzard CEO and the board of directors of the company will allow the CEO to receive a bonus pay of $200 million at the end of this year.
Per the investment group, as released to GameSpot, a loophole created within Bobby Kotick’s employee agreement allows him to claim full bonus payout for previous years regardless of the company’s performance. This loophole is described in the “Shareholder Value Creation Incentive” provision in Kotick’s employment agreement. He can receive a full performance equity payout from previous years – 2017 and on. That is valued at almost $200 million, which is set to be paid out in cash upon the end date of the incentive provision.
Investment group CtW issued a scathing statement over this, as the company just this week laid off less than 2% of its workforce, which is less than 190 people for “restructuring” purposes. The lay offs impacted Activision Blizzard esports department, alongside the company’s King division.
“While the increase in Activision’s stock price is somewhat commendable, as we stated last year and continue to assert, this achievement alone does not justify such a substantial pay outcome for the CEO,” director of executive compensation research, Michael Varner, said. “There are many factors that may contribute to a rise in this particular company’s stock price that may not be directly attributable to Robert Kotick’s leadership. The use of video games as one of the few entertainment options available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has been a boon to many companies in the gaming industry irrespective of executive talent or strategic decisions.“
Bobby Kotick already makes $30 million a year from Activision thanks to his base salary and bonus yearly pay. He’s one of gaming’s highest paid executives. Activision continues to report record profits with 2020 being the company’s biggest year yet.
Activision has not commented on the latest developments on this payout.
Activision Blizzard sued over Modern Warfare & Warzone Operator Mara
Activision Blizzard has been sued by a writer and photographer over using his model photography design for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare & Warzone Operator Mara.
The new lawsuit, as noted by Polygon, was filed in a California court against Activision Blizzard on Tuesday, Feb 2.
Clayton Haugen filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Activision alleging the company used and modeled Mara’s look after one his own characters, Cade Janus. The character is played by the same model used for Mara, Alex Zedra. He posted an image of the character on his Instagram.
Haugen first debuted Cade Janus character is his novel, November Renaissance. “The central character in November Renaissance is Cade Janus, a female vigilante and pariah figure. Haugen created this distinct and multidimensional female protagonist for his story because he believed that November Renaissance could be a successful film and the unique female lead would distinguish it from an over saturated market of action and science fiction movies.”
The lawsuit argues that Activision and Infinity Ward used the same model and photographer to create the Mara character in game, without ever asking for his permission. The complaint also states that Janus’ photography was shown in the studio’s walls during the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare photo-op.
“In addition to hiring the same talent, they also hired the same makeup professional who had prepared the talent for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs,” the complaint reads. “They instructed the makeup professional to prepare the talent exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs. They instructed her to style the talent’s hair exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs, even using the same hair piece extension.”
The Operator Mara was introduced into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in December 2019 as part of the Season One Battle Pass. The lawsuit alleges that Activision, without permission, used this character in all of their marketing material for Season One, including the Season One roadmap.
In the extensive filing of the copyright infringement, Haugen showcases the similarities between his character and the Operator Mara’s look and feel, as seen below:
Activision Blizzard has not commented on the lawsuit at this time. It’s not clear when this will go to trial.
You can read the full lawsuit here.
Activision files complaint over Warzone trademark dispute
Activision has filed a lawsuit to proceed with Warzone trademark registration following a dispute.
Apex Legends War Games Second Chance mode explained
The first event in the Apex Legends War Games event is now live: Second Chance. Here's everything you need to...
Apex Legends: best team comps for Ranked in Season 8
This guide will showcase some of the best team comps for ranked Apex Legends Season 8, based on your playstyle.