WWE pro wrestling Hall of Famer Booker T. Huffman—known in the ring simply as “Booker T”—is suing video game publisher Activision Blizzard for copyright infringement.
According to a complaint filed in Texas and first reported by The Verge, Huffman and his lawyers allege that Activision Blizzard lifted a comic book character Huffman created for use in the popular online shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The lawsuit’s claims are based on the visual similarities between the two characters.
At issue is Huffman’s comic book alter ego GI Bro. Huffman created the GI Bro persona early in his wrestling career and developed a comic book called GI Bro and the Dragon of Death starring GI Bro in 2015, a process that produced artworks depicting the titular character. According to the lawsuit, Huffman promoted the character and comic book by appearing in costume at comic book events.
The lawsuit alleges that Activision Blizzard copied GI Bro’s image to create Prophet, a recurring Call of Duty character whose body is almost entirely cybernetic. Black Ops 4 is a prequel that depicts Prophet before his transformation.
“[Activision Blizzard] chose to depict ‘Prophet’ as he was before he remade himself,” the lawsuit said. “They could have drawn him any way they wanted. But they chose to steal Booker T.’s ‘G. I. Bro.’”
“[Huffman] started to get messages from fans that said, ‘I can’t believe you’re in this this video game. I can’t believe you’re in Call of Duty,” Timothy Micah Dortch said—a lawyer with Potts Law Firm representing Huffman—told me over the phone.
Dortch feels the lawsuit is clear-cut and that precedent is on Huffman’s side. “People have been stealing celebrity likenesses for years in this country,” Dortch said. “It’s clearly a copy of his image. It clearly is Huffman’s GI Bro character.”
Actress Lindsay Lohan claimed something similar in in 2014 when she alleged that publisher Take-Two Interactive appropriated her image in Grand Theft Auto V. Lohan lost the case, appealed, and lost again.
“If somebody copied Spider-Man without telling Marvel about, they’d file suit too,” Dortch he added
Activision Blizzard will have 35 days to respond to the lawsuit. Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Call of Duty has been in similar legal trouble before. In 2014, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who was upset about his depiction Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
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