The makers of Humvee, the heavy duty vehicles that are typically used by the military, filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard Inc., alleging that Activision of gained billions of dollars in revenue by incorporating its Humvee trademarks without their permission in Activision’s flagship video game franchise “Call of Duty.” Humvee / HMMWV, both names which are short for “High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles,” AM General LLC filed a complaint on Tuesday night in U.S. District Court located in New York City. AM General accused Activision of using their goodwill and well-known reputation in the “HMMWV” and “Humvee” trademarks by featuring them prominently in various Call of Duty games, including licensing related content for use in toys and books without AM General’s permission.
The Call of Duty franchise was launched in 2003, and by 2016, Call of Duty sales had surpassed 250 million units, making revenue exceeding $15 billion, according to the company, which is based in Santa Monica, California. In 2016, Activision claimed that Call of Duty was the world’s largest video game console franchise, and North America’s largest for the eighth straight year, is a first-person shooter (FPS) video game that typically depicts either historical time periods, such as World War II, or places players in war-torn areas. Players usually battle against each other wearing military clothing and using military grade weapons.
AM General is owned by MacAndrews & Forbes and Renco Group, which are both holding companies owned by billionaires Ronald Perelman and Ira Rennert, respectively. AM General a South Bend, Indiana-based company has stated that it wants a permanent injunction against Activision, as well as compensatory, punitive, and triple damages from Activision, after more than a year of communications between the two companies did not resolve the ongoing dispute. AM General, who has also produced the civilian “Hummer” line of vehicles, has said that Humvee-branded vehicles have been used by the U.S. military for more than three decades, and are currently used in more than 50 countries.
AM General’s suit claims that the Humvee mark has been used extensively in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (games 1, 2, and 3); Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Mobilized; Call of Duty: Black Ops II; Call of Duty: Ghosts; and Call of Duty: Heroes. The lawsuit also included images of the Humvee in various Call of Duty games, descriptions of how they were used, excerpts from Call of Duty official strategy guides, which made reference to the Humvee vehicle by name, and a photo of real-life Humvees with the Black Ops logo painted on them that were used to by Activision promote the game.
The case is AM General LLC v Activision Blizzard Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-08644. Mary Osako, a spokeswoman for Activision, said on Wednesday that the company does not discuss pending litigation.