AM General filed a lawsuit against Activision for its unauthorized use of Humvee military vehicles in its Call of Duty video games. The complaint alleges that Activision has made billions of dollars by incorporating the protected Humvee and HMMWV marks in the video game and other merchandise, without AM General’s permission.
“Humvee” and “HMMWV” are short for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles. The vehicles are featured in the game itself, referenced in the official strategy guide, and were branded and used to promote the game in real life.
Call of Duty branded games have been sold since 2003, and have been extremely successful. AM General alleges that the infringement has occurred in various editions of the game, including Black Ops 2 which notably sold $500,000,000 worth of copies in one day. However, AM General argues that the success 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.”
AM General has licensed the Humvee for other video games and toys before, so it is very much aware of how these deals should go. The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction and compensatory, punitive, and treble damages. Treble damages are legalese for triple compensatory damages.
It is safe to say that this case will be just as intense as a Call of Duty battle itself.