California-based NovaLogic, the developer behind the tactical shooter series Delta Force, is seeking damages and an injunction for trademark infringement against Activision, after a Delta Force logo was used in the story for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
NovaLogic's Delta Force franchise began in 1998, and has since seen nearly a dozen installments, including the upcoming Delta Force: Angel Falls for Windows PC. As part of Activision's best-selling Modern Warfare 3, released last year, the game features a Delta Force army division.
In NovaLogic's complaint, filed in Los Angeles, the company says that it owns the Delta Force copyright, and alleges that Activision continued to use the Delta Force name in Modern Warfare 3 despite multiple warnings from NovaLogic.
In particular, the company points out that the logo for Modern Warfare 3's Delta Force division is very similar to the logo for NovaLogic's Delta Force series, both depicting a knife behind a triangle with a lightning bolt.
"The infringing mark's lightning rod is horizontal rather than vertical and a portion of the delta sign is set behind the dagger blade rather than being superimposed," reads the complaint [PDF] , as reported by Courthouse News.
It continues, "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. Activision then shamelessly inserted these infringing marks throughout its competing first person military adventure video games."
The complaint goes on to allege that Activision then licensed the name and mark out to hardware manufacturers Turtle Beach and Microsoft, and the BradyGames division of Penguin Books without NovaLogic's permissions -- all of whom are included in the lawsuit.
As part of the complaint, NovaLogic stresses that the Delta Force name is allegedly not part of the U.S. Army, or in any way associated with it.
"There is no unit of the U.S. Army called Delta Force," it says, "There is a branch of the Army's Special Operations known as 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta ('1st SF-ODD'). The U.S. Army officially denies that any unit called Delta Force exists and does not claim ownership to either the Delta Force name or the logo."
"Although there is much lore surrounding special operation units, only because of the Delta Force series does the general public identify the logo with any ancillary existing military unit," it states.
NovaLogic "has lost millions of dollars, possibly more," due to the conduct of Activision, it alleges. As a result, it is seeking damages and an injunction for trademark infringement against the company. Gamasutra has contacted Activision for comment.