Call Of Duty Is Allowed To Play With AM General's Iconic Humvee: Judge

Illustration for article titled Call Of Duty Is Allowed To Play With AM General's Iconic Humvee: Judge
Screenshot: Call of Duty (Activision)

A big three-year legal battle between the studio behind the popular Call of Duty video game franchise and AM General, the maker of the U.S. military’s Humvee, has been settled in favor of the gaming studio. If you send your cars to war, it’s only fair they can be depicted in video games.


Filed under things that absolutely Do Not Matter given recent global events, AM General has lost its lawsuit over the unlicensed portrayal of its vehicles in video games, a judge has ruled.

For the judge, it came down to the element of realism the Humvees assisted, considering the video games were dealing with real entities like the U.S. military. It’s just a matter of being accurate. Here’s more from The Verge:

District court Judge George Daniels wrote that Activision’s games passed the “Rogers test,” referring to a 1980s ruling on the use of trademarked names in artistic works. “It was metaphysically possible for [Activision] to have produced video games without the presence of Humvees,” Daniels says. But they increase Call of Duty’s feeling of realism and serve a purpose beyond simply trading on the Humvee brand. “If realism is an artistic goal, then the presence in modern warfare games of vehicles employed by actual militaries undoubtedly furthers that goal.”

Moreover, Call of Duty beats the “Polaroid factors” standards that determine whether a trademark’s use will confuse consumers. “Put simply, [AM General’s] purpose in using its mark is to sell vehicles to militaries, while [Activision’s] purpose is to create realistically simulating modern warfare video games for purchase by consumers.”

Obviously, if you sat down to play your favorite murder simulator to distract yourselves from the horrors of reality, and the car you crawled into was the Patriot from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you would no longer be fooled into thinking you were mimicking real war.

The judge also determined there was no risk of consumers getting confused between AM General’s business and Activision’s, the studio that produces the Call of Duty franchise. There’s zero risk of AM General’s target customer, the militaries of the world, confusing Activision for the automaker.


It doesn’t sound like AM General had much of a case, other than attempting to prevent 12-year-olds from seeing the horrible things the automaker’s vehicles facilitate.

That being said, games like Battlefield Hardline, Grand Theft Auto, and even Call of Duty’s own Warzone Battle Royale game mode have players climbing in all sorts of random vehicles that aren’t realistic at all.


Even if I was playing a World War One game and there was a pink Smart car, I’d drive the pink Smart car. It doesn’t matter.

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik



Sound reasoning by the judge.  Next question is whether car video game companies can use this reasoning for those games.  Given the factors above, it is doubtful that a game featuring dozens (really hundreds and perhaps thousands) of cars can be confused with the manufacturers of those cars or be said to take sales from the manufacturer.