Lawyer fined for not playing enough Call of Duty
A California court ordered the lawyer of Brooks Entertainment, Inc. to pay Activision’s legal fees, and it’s almost completely due to the attorney’s lack of Call of Duty game time. The situation came about after a lawsuit was filed against Activision by Brooks Entertainment and its CEO, Shon Brooks, alleging that the multinational company violated its trademark of “Shon Brooks” by making Sean Brooks the “main character” of the Call of Duty franchise.
It quickly became apparent that the lawyer likely hadn’t played a single game in the series before embarking on this ill-fated legal expedition, showing that faking gamer cred can lead to tangible consequences in court.
Filing their claim last November, Brooks Entertainment, Inc. claimed that their games Stock Picker and Save One Bank are similar to CoD because both Shon Brooks and Sean Brooks did things like busting thieves, using missiles, and going to Mars, as well as the titles both having “scripted game battle scenes take place in a high fashion couture shopping center mall.”
Here’s a soon-to-be-legendary excerpt from a filing made by Activision’s counsel in response on March 2:
“After receiving the Complaint […] I played the entire single-player campaign of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare [and] it was immediately apparent to me that many (if not virtually all) of the factual allegations in the Complaint were not accurate. It also was immediately apparent that Plaintiff’s counsel could not have played Infinite Warfare (or any Call of Duty game, for that matter) and filed the Complaint in good faith.”
The judge agreed with this withering assessment, dismissing the Complaint with prejudice on July 12 (which means it can’t be filed again). Anyone that’s played Infinite Warfare would also agree, considering Sean Brooks isn’t the game’s main character at all and doesn’t even appear in the game’s shopping mall battle. Activision also motioned for financial compensation under California’s anti-SLAPP law (strategic lawsuits against public participation), which is aimed to punish those who file what are essentially nonsensical lawsuits by awarding monetary compensation. In the end, Brooks’ company had to pay to reimburse Activision for the reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the litigation.
Activision also filed a motion for sanctioning the plaintiff (meaning the company) under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. By presenting a claim in front of a judge, a lawyer automatically certifies that “the claims […] are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument” and “the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation.”
In layman’s terms, you are not making a claim to the Court with random or just plain incorrect assertions that have no evidence to support them. In most states of the US, doing that is a sanctionable action. And so is the case in California, as Brooks Entertainment and their attorney found out, having to pay top dollar because none of them could be bothered to play through a Call of Duty campaign before suing Activision.