Don’t expect a cage match any time soon, but Activision Blizzard Inc. is in hot water with pro wrestler Booker T. Booker T filed suit on Tuesday in federal court alleging that Activision’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” “BLOPs” copied his persona, G.I. Bro. As you can guess, G.I. Bro resembles Booker T in the comics.
The G.I. Bro persona started as a persona used by Booker T but has since evolved into a comic book. Booker T alleges that a recurring character in the game series, David “Prophet” Wilkes, is a knock off of G.I. Bro. Prophet originally appeared in “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” and then was a playable character in “Call of Duty: Black Ops III”. In these previous titles, Prophet is much more cybertronic. Black Ops 4 is a prequel to these games and depicts Prophet as much more human.
The Texas lawsuit alleges claims of copyright infringement based on the use of G.I. Bro. Absent from the suit, however, is a claim for right of publicity for the alleged use of Booker T’s likeness. Right of publicity has been raised in other lawsuits––including Lindsay Lohan’s suit against GTA V makers Take-Two Interactive Software and NFL players’ action against Electronic Arts for the use of player’s likeness in the Madden NFL Series.
Activision is not the only game developer that has been targeted in court. Take-Two is in court for their use of “Pinkerton” agents in the critically acclaimed “Red Dead Redemption 2”. The powerhouse, Fortnite Battle Royale has multiple suits pending for emotes (short character animations) that use well-known dance moves.
With the prevalence of these video-game based lawsuits, developers need to invest some of their microtransaction profits (no pun intended) into clearing depictions and animations.