A famous WWE wrestler, Booker T. Huffman, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Call of Duty publisher Activision, claiming that one of the characters from the Call of Duty game was modeled after Huffman’s G.I. Bro character. After three years of process, the court finally made a decision – one in favor of Activision.
According to IGN, the jury for the case unanimously agreed that Activision didn’t infringe upon Huffman’s copyright in the G.I. Bro poster, citing the official court records of the jury’s verdict form, dated June 24th. Huffman had previously argued that the in-game character, Prophet, who appears in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, looked very, very similar to the G.I. Bro – a character the wrestler created in the earlier days of his career. Luckily for Activision, the jury disagreed with Huffman on several counts, some of which were presented by Activision themselves.
Huffman and his legal team filed a lawsuit against Activision in February 2020, claiming that the Call of Duty character Prophet was based upon his G.I. Bro character, whom he conceived as a wrestling personality who would be a retired special operations soldier. To prove his claims, Huffman provided a poster of his character compared directly to Prophet from Black Ops 4. According to Huffman’s team, there couldn’t be any question that the character (Prophet) was copied from G.I. Bro, with similarities that were too profound to be an accident.
However, Activision’s lawyers pointed out that the poster Mr. Huffman provided as evidence was not original, to begin with. It’s a body copy of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson from the neck down, as he appears on the poster for the 3D edition of G.I. Joe: Retaliation movie, with Booker T’s face instead of Dwayne Johnson’s. So not only is G.I. Bro based on G.I. Joe, which is getting a Snake Eyes spin-off, by the way, but the entire character is a rip-off of one of Booker T’s former colleague’s cinematic endeavors. Unfortunately for Huffman, that makes the image un-copyrightable and a bad piece of evidence in the Call of Duty lawsuit.
Huffman went further and argued that the team behind the Call of Duty Prophet character copied his “facial expression” and his own “attitude.” Activision countered his claims by stating that the plaintiff (the initiator of the lawsuit) can’t seek legal remedy as he doesn’t own the idea of an angry man with a scowling look. Additionally, they pointed out that Huffman lacked any evidence that Activision had access to the poster.
Let’s remember that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 made $500 million in the first three days of its release. Booker T asked the court to award him Activision’s profits attributable to the alleged infringement, but the jury agreed with Activision and decided against Huffman. What’s next, Fox Plaza from Los Angeles will sue Activision for advertising Nakatomi Plaza Duct Cleaning services in Call of Duty: Warzone, starring John McClane and John Rambo.
Well, it wouldn’t be the first copyright infringement lawsuit aimed at a game publisher. Just last week, the U.S. Supreme Court passed on hearing arguments between Lenwood Hamilton and Epic Games over Gears of War character Augustus Cole, which is allegedly based on Hamilton. The Court ruled in favor of Epic Games. Apparently, it’s the wrong time to be a wrestler trying to sue a gaming company, even if they do resemble a badass character from Call of Duty. But at least Capcom doesn’t take an interest in wrestlers, only arts.