Modern Warfare creators West, Zampella vs. Activision

Scott Tortorice

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Ugly lawsuit. Reminds me of Peter Jackson versus New Line:

'Modern Warfare' creators West, Zampella vs. Activision


At stake is as much as $1 billion in damages should the jury decide against Activision, which in 2011 posted a record $1 billion annual profit. That included the release of Modern Warfare 3, developed by West and Zampella's former studio, Infinity Ward, along with Sledgehammer Games. The game set a new first-day sales record of more than $400 million.


Activision almost certainly owes West and Zampella cash from bonuses, says Jack Lerner, director of the University of Southern California Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic. "But the harder question is who will have a stake in future games in the Modern Warfare franchise," he says. If the court rules that Activision wrongly terminated the two, they "may be able to get a lot more money based on what they could have expected to earn."


An outcome in favor of Activision could shift more power to the publisher side of the game-development equation. "It may send a message about just how far a large studio can go with respect to its employees," says Mark Methenitis, a Texas attorney and editor-in-chief of The Law of the Game blog.
Honey and flies, and all that.

Some big flies, too:

Earlier this month in an unusual move, Activision added superstar attorney Beth Wilkinson, a former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. Most recently, she was appointed by the Federal Trade Commission to lead its investigation of Google.


Along with Wilkinson's appointment, Activision asked Judge Elihu Berle to postpone the trial for a month so that she could have more time to prepare. The judge's refusal — jury selection is slated to begin Friday — won't hinder Wilkinson, who can "master a lot of material in a short amount of time and get down to what is most important," says Christ.
Married to Meet the Press host David Gregory, Wilkinson "is something of a celebrity now, which should play well in Los Angeles" and could help Activision's case, Christ says. On West and Zampella's side: Daniel Petrocelli, one of the country's top entertainment, technology and intellectual property trial lawyers. He won the wrongful death case against O.J Simpson in 1997.
My prediction: despite the big names and big money involved, all the networks but FOX Business will ignore the lawsuit because they hate gaming as a competitor and/or just don't understand what the fuss is about (FB's Liz Claman is the only one who seems to follow gaming news on a regular basis).
 

Scott Tortorice

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And they settle out of court:

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Activision Blizzard Announces Settlement Of Infinity Ward Litigation

[/FONT][FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced that all parties to the litigation have reached a settlement of the dispute, the terms of which are strictly confidential.

The company does not believe that the incremental one-time charges related to the settlement will result in a material impact on its GAAP or non-GAAP earnings per share outlook for the current quarter or the calendar year, due to stronger-than-expected operating performance in the current quarter.

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