October 26, 2021

IP Goes Pop! Season 2, Ep #1: When Video Games Get Real – From Tanks to Tattoos

IP Goes PopThis week on IP Goes Pop! Volpe Koenig Shareholder Michael Snyder explores what happens when real world intellectual property makes its way into the virtual (video game) world. In this episode, Michael looks at the outcomes of two separate cases involving famous major video game franchises, and how their use of real-world images ended up in court.

Michael begins this episode with a brief discussion of the evolution of video game technology that has led to some complex intellectual property issues. The episode then dives into a discussion of two recent decisions from the Southern District of New York involving disputes over the use of images in video games.

In the first case, Michael discusses how first amendment rights clashed with trademark rights in a dispute about the unauthorized use of the HUMVEE military vehicle trademark in the popular video game “Call of Duty.” From there, Michael turns to the second case, a dispute involving the game “NBA 2K,” another favorite among videogame enthusiasts. Learn how the depiction of certain NBA players tattoos in “NBA 2K” resulted in a copyright suit.

In this episode:

  • Videogames and intellectual property
  • Am General LLC v. Activision Blizzard, Inc. et al, No. 1:2017cv08644 (S.D.N.Y. 2020)
    • How is the HUMVEE military vehicle used in “Call of Duty?”
    • Trade dress rights
  • Solid Oak Sketches, LLC v. 2K Games, Inc., 449 F. Supp. 3d 333 (S.D.N.Y. 2020)
    • NBA tattoo designs and copyright protection
    • De minimis use, implied license
    • More NBA tattoo cases in the works


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