Its a trademark war! The distributor of the military vehicle, the Humvee, have sued Activision Blizzard over its unauthorized use of the look of the Humvee in the Call of Duty games, toys, and books.

Image of HUMVEE TrademarkAM General is an Indiana-based company that  is best known for the design and production of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (“HMMWV”) or as us simpletons know it, the “Humvee.” For more than 30 years, the Humvee has been in service in the Armed Forces. AM General not only owns a registered mark for HUMVEE but also the design on the vehicle which can be seen to the right. When it comes to trademark protection of the look or design of a product only the non-functional elements can be protected. So having a car frame with four wheels is not protected but the non-functional elements such as spoilers, indents, and the like are protected.

AM General claims that, without permission,Activision Blizzard has infringed the Humvee trade dress in the following games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3; Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® Remastered; Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Mobilized; Call of Duty: Black Ops II; Call of Duty: Ghosts; and Call of Duty: Heroes.

Image of Humvee Infringement

Use of the HUMVEE trademark from the Complaint. (Thanks lawyers for the big red circle cause I would have missed it without that.)

Modern Warfare 2 was first released in 2009…so what the heck took so long to file this lawsuit. That is something that AM General is going to need to explain to the Court. It is highly unlikely that AM General just discovered this infringement so the lapse is quite curious. AM General argues that by using its trademark in the games, many people are confused to think that the use of its marks was authorized. (Yeah, I kinda always assumed it was.) Blizzard also has been involved in producing toys and books that also use the mark.

AM General threw 12 related causes of action at Activision Blizzard and seeks damages, its costs, and attorneys’ fees. Not looking good for Activision Blizzard but I am beyond perplexed that Activision Blizzard did not seek approval to use the brand of the truck and that AM General waiting until eight games were released using the mark to finally take action. All very curious and we shall see whether this case goes down the road of settlement of full out warfare.