If you develop a character, copyright it

by Rushing McCarl LLP Nov. 24, 2021

This summer, Professional wrestler Booker T. Huffman sued video game company Activision Blizzard Inc. for copyright infringement on the grounds that Activision had used his likeness for a character in the game Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Huffman argued that the military-themed persona and character he developed for his comic book series G.I. Bro was used as the basis for the Call of Duty character David “Prophet” Wilkes. Huffman’s complaint contained side-by-side images of the G.I. Bro and Wilkes characters to suggest that the latter was based on the former:

Huffman v. Activision Publishing Inc.

In response, Activision argued that Huffman lacked evidence that the company had accessed the image of G.I. Bro, and that the character’s scowling expression could not be copyrighted. On June 24th the jury decided in Activision’s favor and rejected Huffman’s claims. 

One takeaway from this case for copyright plaintiffs is that it is usually essential to show that the defendant had access to the copied work. Another is that content creators should always file for copyright protection of any character or persona they develop that they intend to use for financial gain.

The case is Huffman v. Activision Publishing Inc, Case No. 2:19-cv-00050 (E.D. Tex.).

Rushing McCarl LLP helps California businesses resolve disputes, mitigate legal risks, and protect their rights and hard-won assets.