Catching up on some reading from last week, Ars Technica (via Video Gamer Law) reports on a new lawsuit filed by the rights holder to Patton’s name and likeness against Maximum Family Games for their game “History(R) Legends of War: Patton.”  The complaint alleges that the use of General Patton’s name, likeness, image, and persona without CMG Worldwide’s (the rights holder) consent constitutes false endorsement and unfair competition under federal law, and a violation of the California right of publicity and unfair competition under California law.

Image taken from CMG’s First Amended Complaint filed December 12, 2014

CMG sets forth several aspects of the game that it believes impose on its rights.  Generally, CMG alleges, the game features General Patton’s famous image, likeness, and persona, in the context for which he is most famous – namely, as a a military general from World War II.  In one interesting part, the complaint notes that players earn “prestige” and “skill” points as the game progresses, and that this reinforces that Patton’s own prestige and skill are a chief selling point of the game.

This case seems similar to Lindsay Lohan’s case against Rockstar over Grand Theft Auto V and Manuel Noriega’s case against Activision over Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which we previously reported on.  In the Noriega case, a California court dismissed the use as “transformative” and noted that authors should be allowed to utilize historical figures in their works. (more at Video Gamer Law).
The case is CMG Worldwide Inc. v. Maximum Family Games, LLC et al, Case No. 3:14-cv-05124, N.D. Cal. (San Fransisco), filed November 19, 2014.
We’ll keep an eye on this case and report any interesting developments.
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