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Activision is facing another big lawsuit over its tentpole Call of Duty series, only this one has nothing to do with people who used to work on the series. It's to do with a rival developer who owns the right to a name that Call of Duty uses a lot.
Fans older PC shooters may be familiar with NovaLogic's Delta Force series, which around the turn of the millennium was OK, but is now the kind of thing you find selling for $5 in giant buckets in a post office.
Quality aside, Novalogic holds a trademark over the use of the term Delta Force, as well as a logo it designed for the series. These date back to the late 1990s.
Call of Duty fans may be more familiar with the term from Modern Warfare 3, though, as one of the units in the game is called Delta Force. Call of Duty's Delta Force not only uses the same term, but has a logo that's very similar to the one Novalogic has been employing.
But wait, you may be thinking, isn't Delta Force a real thing? With Chuck Norris in it? So how can anybody trademark it? Turns out it's not; while there is a branch of the US Army's Special Ops known as the1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta, there is no such thing as a unit officially branded "Delta Force", so Novalogic were free to snap it up (the old Delta Force movie was actually called The Delta Force).
Here's the meat of Novalogic's complaints, as reported on Courtroom News:
"The infringing mark's lightening rod is horizontal rather than vertical and a portion of the delta sign is set behind the dagger blade rather than being superimposed," according to the complaint.
"In single player mode, 7 of 16 missions are designated Delta Force missions, in which the only avatar available to players is 'Frost,' a Delta Force operator," the complaint states. "In addition, players fight alongside a number of non-player controlled characters. Several of these characters are members of Delta Force."
"In multiplayer mode, 7 of 16 mission maps have 'Delta Force' as one of the two factions that the player can select," NovaLogic says.
"At the time of this writing, Activision has released 6 additional multiplayer maps with infringing content. Activision plans to release additional content through their 'Elite Content' feature," it added.
"Despite Activision's irrefutable knowledge of NovaLogic's superior trademark rights, Activision created knockoff marks that are nearly identical [to] NovaLogic's design and word marks," according to the complaint. "Activision then shamelessly inserted these infringing marks throughout its competing first person military adventure video games.
"As if this were not enough, Activision has in-turn licensed the infringing marks to Defendants Voyetra Turtle Beach then shamelessly ('Turtle Beach'), Microsoft Inc. ('Microsoft') and the BradyGAMES division of Penguin Books ('BradyGAMES') without NovaLogic's permission. As a result of Activision's unauthorized licensing, Turtle Beach and Microsoft have created special editions of their products where the overall look and feel is entirely dominated by use of the infringing marks. In addition, BradyGAMES, a creator of videogame strategy guides and books, has reproduced NovaLogic's marks in its publications relating to defendants' game."
In terms of what Novalogic wants out of all this, the developer says it is seeking unspecified damages and "an injunction for trademark infringement and unfair competition."
Video Game Maker Says 'Call of Duty' Copies Old 'Delta Force' Logo [Courtroom News, via Polygon]
A team of Austin developers are working on a new space combat sim inspired by the likes of Wing Commander, Star Wars: TIE Fighter and Descent: FreeSpace – The Great War.
Seamless Entertainment tells Kotaku that they hope to reinvigorate the dying space combat simulation genre with SOL: Exodus, a game that will have players dogfighting from Neptune to Mars as they fight to save the inhabits of our solar system from religious zealots bent on armageddon.
The story has humanity discovering that the sun is set to go supernova in the near future. Ships are sent out to search for a new habitable planet, but when they return they discover that a religious group has taken over the planet and is trying to get everyone to stay to embrace their deaths and be ushered into heaven.
The team working on the game include folks with quite a bit of experience under their belts, including working on some big titles like Saint's Row and Civilization III. Seamless creative director Chris Stockman even worked on classic combat sim Tachyon: The Fringe.
According to the press release, SOL: Exodus will deliver epic space battles featuring enormous capital ships, hordes of spacecraft and beautifully rendered planetary battlegrounds in an action-packed presentation reminiscent of iconic sci-fi TV shows and movies. The game is being developed with Epic's Unreal Engine.
While the two declined to give me details about the gameplay or look of the upcoming downloadable game, due out later this year, they did say it would involve some new concepts in a space combat game. They also said it would feel like a game that blends the best of Wing Commander and Star Wars: TIE Fighter updated to be more appealing to today's generation of gamers.
"With SOL: Exodus, players will enjoy gameplay staples of the genre such as dogfighting and engaging giant capital ships," Stockman said. "But we‘ve also introduced some unique special abilities for added mission depth and interactivity. I'll be talking more about those as we get closer to launching later this year."
Check back later today for our full interview with Stockman and studio director Dan Magaha. For more information about SOL: Exodus go to the official site.