‘Call of Duty’ Didn’t Rip Off Booker T Comic Character, Jury Says

June 25, 2021, 4:56 PM

Activision Blizzard Inc. didn’t infringe wrestler Booker T’s “G.I. Bro” comic character with a character in its “Call of Duty” video game, a Texas federal jury has ruled.

Booker T. Huffman said the company’s “Prophet” character from the “Black Ops 4" edition of the “Call of Duty” franchise was strikingly similar to his comic book hero. In a June 23 filing asking the judge to take the decision out of the jury’s hands, Activision said the only unique thing claimed by Huffman was a ‘facial expression’ or ‘attitude,’ both of which, it said, are unprotectable.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas jury delivered the verdict about three afters after being excused to begin deliberations, according to a court fling.

Huffman published comics about a special operations solider that looks like himself. Huffman’s February 2019 complaint included side-by-side photos of the characters with similar dreadlocks, large guns, and military clothing as evidence. He avoided two Activision pre-trial bids to escape the case, beating back motions for dismissal and later summary judgment.

The jury sided with the game maker. Trial counsel E. Leon Carter of Carter Arnett said the company was pleased with an outcome that validated its creative process and employees.

“Bottom line, to call this a frivolous case would be a massive understatement. Activision creates games with the utmost integrity and is extremely proud of everyone involved with the development and creative process for all of our games including Call of Duty: Black Ops 4,” Carter said in a statement.

Huffman’s counsel didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

District Judge Robert W. Schroeder III is presiding over the trial.

Huffman was represented by Law Offices of Patrick Zummo, Potts Law Firm LLP and Harvard Law Firm. Activision was also represented by Durie Tangri LLP and Gillam & Smith LLP.

The case is Huffman v. Activision Publishing Inc. et al., E.D. Tex., No. 19-50, Jury Verdict 6/24/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kyle Jahner in Washington at kjahner@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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