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Activision Suit Over West, Zampella's Relationship With EA To Move Forward

Activision Suit Over West, Zampella's Relationship With EA To Move Forward

March 16, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

A California Superior Court judge has ruled that a $400 million Activision lawsuit brought against Electronic Arts, regarding the company's hiring of Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella, can move forward.

Bloomberg reports Judge Elihu Berle dismissed only one of four claims in the suit, leaving intact three related allegations that EA met with the Call of Duty creators and their agents while they were still with Activision, in breach of their contracts.

Activision's suit was initially filed against West and Zampella alone, in response to a separate lawsuit brought against Activision by the pair. That suit alleged that Activision fired West and Zampella in order to avoid paying $36 million in royalties following the sales success of Modern Warfare 2.

Activision later redistributed those royalties to the remaining employees at Infinity Ward, though many such employees decided to leave Activision in order to join West and Zampella's independent Respawn Entertainment, which had signed a publishing deal with EA.

Electronic Arts was added as a cross-defendant in Activision's countersuit in December, on charges of contract interference. EA asked for the case to be dismissed due to a lack of evidence, but today's ruling seems to establish that Activision has a strong enough case to be argued further.

In an interview with Gamasutra last May, EA Games president Frank Gibeau said the company's deal with Respawn Entertainment "fell into our laps" after West and Zampella's firing.

In January. West and Zampella accused Activision of dragging out court proceedings in the case, leading legal fees surrounding the case to exceed salary payments for Respawn Entertainment.

Activision's suit is expected to go to trial starting in May.

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