Capcom has filed suit against MKR Productions, the holders of the rights to the Dawn of the Dead films, to "eliminate any doubt" that its massively popular Xbox 360 game Dead Rising
does not infringe on the company's rights.
When the game originally shipped in 2006, an unusual disclaimer on the package hinted at what was to come: "This game was not developed, approved or licensed by the owners or creators of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead." It was widely assumed that this was included because both the game and the film deal with a zombie invasion of a suburban shopping mall.
According to the suit, which is available as a PDF download from The Hollywood Reporter's Entertainment and Media Law Blog
, Capcom entered into discussions with New Line Cinema (acting as a representative of MKR) without resolution, starting in 2006.
Capcom indicates in its conclusion that though litigation against the company was never filed by New Line or MKR, the disclaimer was included on the game box in anticipation of legal troubles, and sporadic communication between the parties did continue through late last year.
It was at this point MKR brought Microsoft and Best Buy into the discussions, with, says the developer, an "intention to drag these companies into litigation against Capcom." This correspondence has continued into 2008.
According to Capcom, in 2007, MKR also filed a Notice of Opposition to block Capcom's trademark registration for Dead Rising
. Capcom is seeking a declaratory judgment to protect its rights in the game, and to prove that the scenario of zombies attacking a mall is an "unprotectible theme" under copyright law. The complaint states that Capcom is filing suit in anticipation of action from MKR.