AM General, the manufacturer of Humvee, has filed a lawsuit against gaming publisher Activision Blizzard for trademark infringement alleging the company never asked for permission to use its products in the massively popular Call of Duty franchise.
In a complaint filed on Tuesday (7 November) in a US District Court in Manhattan, AM General accused Activision of "taking advantage of its goodwill and reputation in the 'Humvee' and 'HMMWV' marques" by prominently featuring the iconic heavy-duty military vehicles in the Call of Duty games as well as related merchandise such as toys and books, Reuters reports.
As of January 2016, the Call of Duty series had sold a whopping 250 million copies worldwide since its launch in 2003 and garnered more than $15bn in revenue. Activision recently revealed that its latest iteration, Call of Duty: WWII is selling well since its launch last week and has already sold twice as many units as against last year's Infinite Warfare. The firm did not disclose any hard numbers.
AM General, however, claims that the revenue generated over the years is a result of its trademarks "at the expense of AM General and consumers who are deceived into believing that AM General licenses the games or is somehow connected with or involved in the creation of the games."
It accused Activision of "reaping millions of dollars in revenues from their wrongful acts and, in the process, have irreparably harmed AM General by causing significant confusion, expressly misleading the consuming public, and diluting the goodwill and reputation of AM General's famous marks."
It claims its trademarked products were featured in a number of Call of Duty games including Modern Warfare 2 and 3, Black Ops 2, Ghosts and Heroes among others.
In the suit, AM General pointed out several instances in which the vehicles in Call of Duty games, advertisements and marketing featured distinctive design elements of its Humvees, including its overall shape. It also pointed out that characters in Modern Warfare 3 specifically mention Humvees in dialogues such as, "Do not fire on the Humvees, those are our guys" or "Get Volk in the Humvee, let's go!"
The Indiana-based company is seeking compensatory, punitive and triple damages from Activision after communications for a year eventually failed.
First produced in 1984, the Humvee is also known as the HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle). AM General says it has produced more than 1.5 million vehicles including over 278,000 Humvee-branded vehicles. Its iconic vehicles have been used by the US military for more than three decades and in more over 50 countries. The company also produced the civilian vehicle, the Hummer, as well.
AM General and Activision have yet to publicly comment on the suit.