LOS ANGELES Rock band No Doubt sued video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc over the use of their likeness on its new "Band Hero" product, accusing the company of turning the rockers into a virtual karaoke act.
No Doubt and Activision had a contract allowing the company to use the band members in the game, but Activision, which is based in Santa Monica, California, went beyond the agreement by allowing gamers to use avatars of the band performing songs from other rock groups, the lawsuit states.
"Band Hero" is a variation on Activision's "Guitar Hero" game, which was launched in 2005 and passed the $2 billion sales mark at the beginning of this year.
The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, a day after "Band Hero" hit stores, and it accuses Activision of fraudulent inducement and breach of contract.
In one instance of how "Band Hero" allows for unauthorized use of No Doubt's likeness, a feature on the game has the band's Gwen Stefani singing Rolling Stones song "Honky Tonk Women," the band's lawsuit states.
The feature "results in an unauthorized performance by the Gwen Stefani avatar in a male voice boasting about having sex with prostitutes," the lawsuit states.
In a statement the company said: "Activision believes it is within its legal rights with respect to the use and portrayal of the band members in the game and that this lawsuit is without merit."
With its lawsuit, No Doubt is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction preventing Activision from distributing the game. No Doubt wants Activision to recall existing copies.
No Doubt hails from the suburban community of Anaheim, California, south of Los Angeles, and the band scored hits with the songs "Don't Speak" and "Underneath It All."
In September, Courtney Love, the widow of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, criticized Activision for using Cobain's likeness in "Guitar Hero 5" in ways that she did not approve of, including singing songs from other bands.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Andre Grenon)