A lawsuit against Activision Blizzard was dismissed last month because, according to a judge in the Southern California district court where the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiffs did not play enough. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare to knowingly plead the slandered publisher. For once in Activision Blizzard’s Many Controversial Legal Battlesthings ended well.
According a report by law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Activision Blizzard was sued in November 2021 by Brooks Entertainment, Inc., a California-based company specializing in film and television production and other forms of entertainment. However, Kotaku could not find an official website for the company. Brooks Entertainment and its CEO, Shon Brookswho describes himself as an inventor, claims to own the trademarks of financial mobile games Save a bank and Stock picker. It should be noted that Kotaku also could not verify the existence of these games. Regardless ofaThese three entities, alongside Activision Blizzard and 2016’s Infinite Warwere at the center of the trial.
In November 2021, Brooks Entertainment alleged Activision stole the intellectual property of both Save a bank and Stock pickeras well as the identity of its owner, Infinite War. To be more specific, the complaint claimed that the 2016 first-person shooter’s “main character”, Sean Brooks, was based on the company’s CEO and that all three games had “scripted battle scenes that take place in a high-fashion shopping mall.” There were other similarities as well, but those claims were at the heart of the complaint.
But If you only played an hour or two of Infinite War, you would know that everything is wrong. On the one hand, the main character is not Corporal Sean Brooks at all but rather his teammate Commander Nick Reyesa space marine who becomes the captain of the game’s main militia. Additionally, while there are a scripted battle scene in a mall, it takes place in the distant future of Geneva, one of the game’s many locations, and Sean Brooks is not there. You play as Reyes all the time.
In January 2022, Activision’s attorney wrote to Brooks Entertainment’s attorney that the complaint “contains[ed] misrepresentations and serious factual errors, and that the allegations set forth therein are both factually and legally frivolous. If the company did not withdraw the lawsuit, Activision would file Rule 11 Penalties, penalties forcing the plaintiff to pay a fine for presenting dubious or inappropriate arguments without substantial or, for that matter, accurate evidence. And that’s exactly what happened in March 2022, when Activision filed its motions for sanctions against Brooks Entertainment, claiming the plaintiffs failed to perform. Infinite War and provided inaccurate statements.
The Southern California District Court accepted Activision movements on July 12, dismissed Brook Entertainment’s lawsuit with prejudice (meaning the claim cannot be refiled in this court) and ordered the plaintiff’s attorney to compensate the ailing publisher for the money and time he wasted. In its conclusion, the court said the plaintiff failed to conduct a thorough and reasonable investigation of the relevant facts about gambling before filing the lawsuit.
« Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a first person shooter, not first and third person as claimed, and Sean Brooks is not directing a scripted battle scene in a high fashion mall,” the court said in its statement. decision in favor of Activision. “Plaintiff’s attorney could have easily verified these facts before filing the factually unfounded complaint, just as the Court easily verified them within the first hour and a half of play.”
Kotaku has contacted Activision Blizzard for comment.
Richard Hoeg, lawyer specializing in digital and video game law, said Kotaku that non-protectable concepts such as people’s names used in fictional entertainment are quite difficult to copyright and claim infringement.
“It’s hard to say why the lawsuit arose,” Hoeg said. “Granted, if a suit gets kicked out *with penalties*, that wasn’t very good in the first place. It may just be hubris or a lawyer encouraging a lawsuit against a well-resourced party. The suit itself says [Brooks Entertainment] launched a game at Activision between 2010 [and] 2015. That said, the infringement lawsuit is ghastly, alleging violation of non-protectable concepts such as: “Shon Brooks sails exotic, action-packed locations and Sean Brooks sails exotic, action-packed locations.”
Hoeg went on to say that it’s hard to get “real penalties imposed on you” because that would be a level of bad filing far above a simple dismissal.
“The court basically finds the whole argument insane,” Hoeg concluded. “Brooks Entertainment even included Rockstar Games for no reason (which didn’t help their case with the judge). So the penalties here are Brooks Entertainment [has] to pay Activision’s legal fees and expenses.
While things may have ended well for Activision this time around, the maligned publisher is still causing legal headaches. The company was just struck by Diablo anti-union devs. Still. Ugh.