Expect a long and drawn out legal story, as Activision Blizzard is being sued in a lawsuit by AM General, the makers of the Humvee military vehicle. It’s ironic timing, considering the latest game, Call of Duty WWII, is in the era to the 1989 combat debut of the Humvee, or High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV).
AM General is owned by the MacAndrews & Forbes company and the Renco Group. The legal complain accuses Activision of taking advantage of the goodwill and reputation in the ‘Humvee’ and ‘HMMWV’ marks by featuring them prominently in ‘Call of Duty’ and related content for toys and books.
Obviously, the Call of Duty series has covered a range of periods since it launched in 2003. With more than 250 million units in sales, and revenue of more than $15 billion, Activision claim it’s the largest console video game franchise in the world. And between the origins of the series in World War 2 (and subsequent return), and the futuristic titles, the Modern Warfare triology focused heavily on relatively current U.S military operations.
Which means AM General now claim the success of Call of Duty came “only at the expense of AM General and consumers who are deceived into believing that AM General licenses the games or is somehow connected with or involved in the creation of the games.” And now wants compensatory, punitive and triple damages after more than 12 months of communication apparently failed to solve the issue.
Basically it comes down to AM General apparently protecting the trademarks for vehicles it produces, and then trying to stretch further to claim that Call of Duty and merchandise sold because it had a Humvee in it. Which seems a more risky proposition to prove in court, to say the least. But it does mean the potential for financial cost would probably be bigger, making it more likely Activision might capitulate and settle.
Ironically, Activision and Call of Duty did have a number of tie-ins with anothe iconic U.S military vehicle, as you could buy a special 2011 Jeep Wrangler Call of Duty: Black Ops Edition, and a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Special Edition.