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Things Didn't Go Well For Booker T's Lawsuit Against Activision

"Booker T" Huffman is a professional wrestler known for his six WCW World Television Championships and for going head to head with Dave Bautista of "Guardians of the Galaxy" fame in real life. Now, the wrestler is making headlines for a lengthy legal battle with Activision — a battle that did not end in his favor.

Back in 2019, Huffman filed a copyright complaint against Activision, the publisher of the "Call of Duty" series. At the time, The Verge described the lawsuit, detailing that Huffman believed that Activision had used his likeness for the character of Prophet in "Black Ops 4." Specifically, Huffman alleged that Activision copied his character's look from a 1990s comic book, "G.I. Bro and the Dragon of Death." Huffman's case finally went to court, and things didn't turn out in his favor.

Activision fired back with its own claim, positing that Huffman couldn't copyright some aspects of his G.I. Bro character. "A facial expression is not copyrightable," a motion from Activision's lawyers claimed. "Nor is an 'attitude.' Furthermore, Plaintiff presented no evidence of access, and he and the creators of G.I. Bro universally agreed that the images were different in many, significant ways that preclude a finding of striking similarity." 

In other words, there were too many differences, as well as similarities with other properties, for the court to agree that Activision has copied Huffman's character directly.

Copyright complaints are common

According to the official verdict form, the jury found Huffman's claim lacking, and decided that Activision Blizzard likely did not copy Huffman's G.I. Bro character. One of Activision's lawyers, Daralyn Durie of Durie Tangri, told Reuters, "We had a lot of confidence that the jury would see things our way, and we're really happy that they did." Huffman's legal team has yet to release a statement about the verdict.

Activision was also recently served by a writer and artists who claims "Modern Warfare" cloned a character he created. However, Activision isn't the only gaming company to encounter copyright lawsuits in recent months. Capcom recently had two separate copyright complaints filed against it. In one, artist Judy A. Juracek claimed that Capcom used some of her designs in "Resident Evil 4." Admittedly, things didn't look good for Capcom in that case, with many of the designs appearing strikingly similar.

Regardless of whether game studios win or lose cases about copyright infringement, the optics of these kinds of lawsuits run the risk of affecting the company's reputation with fans, or in the industry itself.