Home Financial consultant Activision wins Rule 11 penalties for frivolous ‘COD: Infinite Warfare’ lawsuit

Activision wins Rule 11 penalties for frivolous ‘COD: Infinite Warfare’ lawsuit


from Clap back department

It’s always frustrating to come across an intellectual property lawsuit that’s so ridiculously frivolous. On the other hand, it’s then quite amusing when a court does things so well that the frivolous plaintiff gets a good slap on the wrist for his problem. At the end of 2021, Activision Blizzard was sued by a company called Brooks Entertainment, which argued that the video game Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare contained several case of trademark and copyright infringement.

According a report by a litigation partner at the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (who warned Kotaku), Activision Blizzard was sued in November 2021 by Brooks Entertainment, Inc., a California-based company specializing in film and television production and others forms of entertainment. However, Kotaku could not find an official website for the company. Brooks Entertainment and its CEO, Shon Brooks, which describes itself as an inventor, claims to own the financial mobile game brands Save One Bank and Stock Picker. It should be noted that Kotaku was also unable to verify the existence of these games. Regardless, these three entities, alongside Activision Blizzard and Infinite Warfare in 2016, were at the center of the lawsuit.

At issue were several aspects of the game that Brooks claimed infringed the trademark and copyrights of those other games and the Brooks Entertainment company itself. How? Well, there were in-game references to financial institutions and in-game apps that were somehow similar in name to the brands mentioned above. Additionally, Brooks alleged that there were characters and storylines that were “rip-offs” from Brooks’ games and, strangely, its CEO.

Brooks Entertainment alleged Activision has ripped off the intellectual property of Save One Bank and Stock Picker, as well as the identity of its owner, in Infinite Warfare. 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.

As Kotaku notes, just about everything in these claims is either silly or completely false, and so Brooks lost the case. For example, the trademark claims were based on similarity of names, but the court pointed out that the COD the game is an expressive work. A character with the same name in an artistic expression protected by the First Amendment follows the Rogers test instead of a similarity test, and no one is confused about the origin of a property simply because there is has a Sean Brooks character in a COD Game.

As for copyrights, well…

The alleged similarities in this case – for example, a video game played “offshore”, the use of “exotic locations” and travel to other planets, – are so broad and generally applicable to the video game industry that ‘they could not be protected by copyright, even if the plaintiff had been able to produce evidence of access and similarity. Additionally, and far more troubling, other claims are demonstrably false. For example, COD is a first-person shooter, not first-and-third-person as claimed,9 and Sean Brooks isn’t directing a scripted battle scene in a high-fashion mall.

Plaintiff’s counsel 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. Finally, there is no indication that either another of the defendants ever received the copyrighted material. In fact, the documents that the plaintiff’s attorney relied on and shared with the Court show that the emails containing the documents were sent only to former Rockstar HR manager Sarah Schafer and n never received a response.

By now you’re probably wondering what Rockstar has to do with all of this, given that the company has nothing to do with the COD franchise. You might be wondering, “Hey wait, did Brooks Entertainment go after the wrong company in all of this?” Well, it’s more complicated than that, involving an employee who may or may not have gone back and forth between being employed by Rockstar and Activision…but yeah, pretty much. Anyway, it’s kind of funny to see a referee say, “Hey, did you even play the game? Because I did and it’s all just plain wrong.

As for Brooks’ assertion that the game appropriated his ‘likeness’ due to the homophonically similar names, the court had to write those words, which I kind of imagine was accomplished by rubbing their temples of frustration.

Under section 3344, defendants did not use plaintiff’s “name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness in any way.” cal. Civil. Code § 3344 (emphasis added). Shon Brooks is an African-American financial consultant from New Jersey, while (different spelling) “Sean Brooks” is a Caucasian, Solar Association Treaty Organization Marine, from Ireland voiced by an Irish actor .

If you’ve dived into the integrated decision, you may have already noticed that it’s not just a decision for the trial, but also for Rule 11 Penalties. They are the ones who make the filer of a bullshit lawsuit, who can’t even establish his own facts, pay the defendant for wasting his time and money. And the result of this pointless and confusing fight that Brooks Entertainment has chosen to choose with Activision (and others) is that they go pay the defendant instead of the other way around.

And so we are now waiting for the parties to submit their opinions on the “reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses” that have been incurred by Activision as a result of this litigation. Maybe next time Brooks Entertainment should stick to the entertainment stuff, because that’s obviously pretty bad for litigation.

Filed Under: call of duty, copyright, frivolous lawsuits, infinity war, publicity rights, rule 11, rule 11 penalties, shon brooks, trademark

Companies: activision blizzard, brooks entertainment