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 Delta Force  dev seeking damages over  Modern Warfare 3  infringement
Delta Force dev seeking damages over Modern Warfare 3 infringement
May 16, 2012 | By Mike Rose

May 16, 2012 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

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.

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Frank Diaz
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sooooo..then did nova logic steal the name from the chuck norris film?

"NovaLogic's Delta Force franchise began in 1998"
The Delta Force (1986) - IMDB

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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Delta Force is not a trademarked name, its the name of a US military unit.
Its like making a game/movie called "The Marines".
Also Chucks movie isn't a franchise.

The MW logo does very closely resemble the Novalogic IP Logo and I think some intern probably just ripped it straight off from google images.

That being said I think that NovaLogic is playing the copyright-troll here with "lost millions of dollars".

Frank Diaz
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yea i was sorta trolling nova logic myself lol. i agree.

Alec Fisher-Lasky
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As was stated in the article "Delta Force" is not the name of a military unit and therefore can be trademarked.

Also the Chuck Norris film is called "THE Delta Force" which is a silly distinction but an important legal one nonetheless.

Andrew Grapsas
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Delta Force is the unofficial name of a military unit:

The term "Delta Force" has a strong history of use in pop culture including novels, games, movies, and more. I mean, there's even a memoir by an operator and the book is titled "Inside Delta Force."

This is silly.

Oliver Little
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Two things.

1) People seem to constantly forget that Wikipedia is update by anyone. It's not an official be-all-end-all encyclopedia of factually accurate information...

2) If you actually read the link you posted, it refers to 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta NOT a group called Delta Force. The only reason any association can be made, is because the general public calls them Delta Force (it even says on the page that the members of the detachment DONT call themselves Delta Force). You could even say that the only reason the public calls them Delta Force, is because it's a term they've heard thrown around elsewhere, and the name of the detachment has the word Delta in it...

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How does a company loose millions of dollars off of a logo infringement? I can see loosing association to the creation of the logo in question, but millions of dollars... that seems unlikely.

John McMahon
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When people want to an experience generally associated with your IP (as in Delta Force), then you do lose money as those people are not buying your product, but an inferior rip-off.

E Zachary Knight
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That requires that people are buying the "knockoff" in lue of the original. How many people bought Modern Warfare 3 as a replacement for Delta Force?

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I also wondering that claim E Zachary. Just how many people said hey MW3 had Delta Force. I'm not going to buy that other DF game game this year...

I can understand how John's argument works for say Prada where the brand is the image. But some logo I don't notice robbing a company of millions from a game I don't even know exist; that just can't be.

When I think of Delta Force, I get two pictures. One is the Chuck Norris movie(s) the other is a military unit that officially doesn't exist according to our government. I was unaware that some game was actually making money off of the prospect of a military unit that doesn't exist existing in game world that tries to make the unit real.

If this is the case then this company is only asking for the millions they did not make off of negotiating the royalty fees they could have made if Activision had of contacted them for the use of their logo.

Maybe the development team went looking for logos on Google found one they liked and re-engineered the design so that it would not look like an exact copy of what they found. They probably didn't even bother to see who made the design at all. It doesn't make it right, but it still doesn't prove the loss associated with a knock of either.

MW3 would have sold as much with or without the logo IMO.

Adam Bishop
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Regardless of the specific origin of the term "Delta Force", I don't know how anyone can look at those two logos and not think that Activision ripped the logo off.

Lincoln Thurber
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Sadly, I think Nova Logic will lose. The logo Activision created is very much based on the shoulder patch that is used for 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta (1st SFOD)aka “Delta Force”
ts with the logo or variations of the logo can be purchased in any Army Navy Shop in the country.Secondly, other individuals and companies have been using similar "knife, triangle, lightning bolt" motifs without Nova Logic stopping them. Either everyone is infringing or nobody is, and Nova Logic seemingly has allowed infringement to occur. I counted several dozen 'fps shooter' clans across multiple games using variation of the log with impunity as well. If anything both the US Army and Nova Logic are on shaky ground for ownership with such infringement rampant.

Lastly, I think Activision looked very closely at what it was going if Nova Logic had sent letter on the topic. It is very likely Activision considers their use legal and defensible. If this had been the first time Activision knew there was possible infringement then I would be less certain they would win, but Nova Logic has covered this ground with Activision.

Steven Ulakovich
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I wonder if EA being a minority shareholder has anything to do with this.

Michael Rooney
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I don't think millions is that far off tbh. It's a pretty reasonable estimate when you consider that one of the best selling games of all time didn't license the trademark/copyright/whatever and then proceeded to license out an IP they didn't own to 2 hardware manufacturers.

Primarily it would be the logo over "Delta Force", but they still have totally reasonable claims to infringement. In infringement cases "loss" does not always refer to losses related to your own product, but also to losses related to the licensing.

Derek Drake
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Actually when I played through MW3 and saw that logo, I completely thought of NovaLogic. I was a fan of them well before the Delta Force series but was slightly surprised to see them suing over this.