Jury left stone cold by wrestler's Activision infringement case

The entrance to the Activision Blizzard Inc.  campus is shown in Irvine, California
The entrance to the Activision Blizzard Inc. campus is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files
  • "Call of Duty" maker sued for allegedly ripping off wrestler's "G.I. Bro"
  • Activision said it lacked access to his work

(Reuters) - Activision Blizzard Inc defeated claims by professional wrestler Booker T. Huffman that a character in one of its popular "Call of Duty" games ripped off his "G.I. Bro" character in a jury trial in Marshall, Texas on Thursday.

The jury found Activision didn't infringe Booker T's copyright in a poster promoting his character when it created the version of David (Prophet) Wilkes in "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4."

"We had a lot of confidence that the jury would see things our way, and we're really happy that they did," Activision attorney Daralyn Durie of Durie Tangri told Reuters. She noted the company's "compelling" argument that it created Prophet independently, including the story of actor William Romeo, who modeled the character.

Huffman's attorneys Patrick Zummo of the Law Offices of Patrick Zummo and Micah Dortch of Potts Law Firm didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Booker T first sued Activision in 2019. He said he created "G.I. Bro," a retired special operations officer, for a comic book series. The wrestler alleged that Activision copied a promotional poster for his comic to create Prophet in "Black Ops 4".

The game made $500 million in its first three days on sale. Booker T asked the court to award him Activision's profits attributable to the alleged infringement.

Activision argued during the four-day trial that, among other things, Booker T lacked evidence that the company had access to the poster, and that the image of "G.I. Bro" was uncopyrightable because it copied an image of Dwayne (The Rock)Johnson "from the neck down."

U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder presided.

The case is Huffman v. Activision Publishing Inc, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, No. 2:19-cv-00050.

For Huffman: Patrick Zummo of the Law Offices of Patrick Zummo; and Micah Dortch of Potts Law Firm

For Activision: Daralyn Durie of Durie Tangri; E. Leon Carter of Carter Arnett; and Melissa Smith of Gillam & Smith

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, for Reuters Legal. He has previously written for Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Practical Law and practiced as an attorney. Contact: 12029385713