On November 7th, 2017, the manufacturer of America’s premier war chariot, the Humvee®, AM General LLC, filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, INC., the developer of the popular Call of Duty© (CoD) franchise. The Humvee is an armored vehicle that can carry soldiers, weapons, and supplies through rugged terrain; it has been widely used in conflicts throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.
The complaint alleges that the CoD franchise has wrongfully leveraged the goodwill and reputation that AM General has developed in the ‘Humvee’ and ‘HMMWV’ marks. It is alleged that CoD has used these incontestable trademarks and trade dress in advertising and promoting the vehicles in several CoD video games (mainly the Modern Warfare Trilogy), toys, and books, without permission from AM General. CoD has earned about $15 billion in revenue since launching the series in 2003.
To prove trademark and trade dress infringement under the Trademark (“Lanham”) Act, AM General will have to prove, that as a matter of fact, CoD’s use of the ‘Humvee’ and ‘HMMWV’ marks have “irreparably harmed AM General by causing significant confusion, expressly misleading the consuming public, and diluting the goodwill and reputation of AM General’s famous marks.” Further, to prove trademark infringement, AM General must show that “Defendants’ unauthorized use of AM General’s HUMVEE marks has caused and is likely to cause confusion, mistake, and deception as to the affiliation, connection, or association with, or sponsorship or approval by, AM General, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1114.”
AM General is seeking a permanent injunction that will enjoin CoD from using the HUMVEE trademark and trade dress, along with punitive and compensatory damages, with costs.
AM General LLC v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., C.A. No. 2:17-cv-08644, 1-40 (S.D.N.Y. 2017).