With so much anticipation and intrigue surrounding Black Ops 2 it’s worrying to think that the game might actually never be released.
In an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) drafted up in 2008 by Infinity Ward and Activision, the condition is established that Infinity Ward has “authority” over anyCall of Duty game set after the Vietnam war.
“Activision will retain authority and responsibility over all titles within the ‘Call of Duty’ franchise (specifically excluding any ‘Call of Duty’ title set in modern day (post Vietnam). the near future or distant future, which shall be under the authority of IW consistent with and subject to Sections 2(a) and (b)). including all creative, development and publishing decisions; provided that IW will be entitled to receive a residual IP bonus and a technology bonus from products published under the ‘Call of Duty’ brand as outlined in Section 3(d).”
If you’re now thinking, “So why have Treyarch made a game set in the near-future?” then you’re not alone. Infinity Ward would like an answer as well; so much so that they’ve hired an intellectual property lawyer to advise them on the best course of action. The executives at Infinity Ward no doubt feel thatBlack Ops 2 is a massive breach of this agreement. MOU’s are not strictly legally binding but if they’re worded in a certain way, they can be almost as strong as a legal contract.
Eric Chad, the lawyer representing Infinity Ward, was very clear about the likely outcomes of any legal action.
“[Pulling Black Ops II from the shelves] is likely a possible remedy. This does occasionally happen, but I think it is much more likely that the remedy would be some sort of damages payment, like a forced royalty.”
He also added that because Black Ops 2 is at such an advanced stage in it’s development, killing the game would be complicated so it’s more likely that Activision will be forced to pay damages to Infinity Ward. The scale of these damages would likely depend on how well Black Ops 2 sells.
This isn’t the only legal dispute between the two companies though. Infinity Ward has already filed a lawsuit against Activision for unpaid royalties amounting to between $75 million and $125 million.
It’s still anyone’s guess as to how the two parties will handle this situation, but as Mr. Chad said, damages are the most likely outcome.
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