AM General, the manufacturer of the well known Humvee military vehicles, has filed lawsuit against Activision for extensive use of Humvees in Call of Duty over the years.

The lawsuit alleges that Activision have taken advantage of AM General's "goodwill and reputation" by incorporating Humvee branding into the games and related toys and content. AM also alleges that the vehicles are a key selling point to the series. Activision have stated that they do not comment on pending litigation.

Humvee and HMMWV are short for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, used by the military for its highly resistant construction. AM General says they have produced nearly 278,000 Humvees as manufacturer.What The company also said it wants compensatory, punitive and triple damages from Activision after the months of talks have failed.

We spoke with IP litigator Nathan Sabri of Morrison & Foerster about the case's viability.

"You're usually fine to use a real toy or name if it's part of a plot of your movie," Sabri said. "What I think [AM General is] getting at is, if the Humvees are background use, then AM General doesn't have a case and I think they know that. What AM General needs to prove is that Call of Duty is being misleading about the source and makes people think it's sponsored or licensed."

Sabri pointed out that this has come up before when the owner of a Los Angeles Club felt that a club in Grand Theft Auto was named too similarly. In that case, Sabri said, the appellate court judge found that the similarity was protected by fair use.

"It's a pretty uphill battle, if you ask me," Sabri said of AM General's case.

 

Our Take
As one of the biggest series in the world, Call of Duty is going to be a big target for other companies. Activision is likely to be embroiled in things like this for a while.