Activision and TactiVision Fight it Out in Trademark Litigation

activision lawsuit

When you invest the time and effort to apply for a registered trademark for your brand, logo, catchphrase, or identifying mark, the work doesn’t stop there. Situations can arise that force you to challenge another trademark application or initiate trademark litigation to protect your reputation and future profits. The recent Activision lawsuit is an example of how a company can enforce its trademark rights and challenge a similar-sounding trademark.

Trademark litigation cases can be filed in state or federal courts depending on the specific circumstances. However, if an application is still pending, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can resolve certain disputes. Trademark lawsuits often address legal issues such as:

  • Trademark infringement, dilution, licensing disputes, and counterfeiting
  • Lanham Act violations
  • Trade dress infringement
  • Unfair competition, and
  • False advertising.

The Activision lawsuit raises legal issues including trademark infringement and dilution, as well as requesting the USPTO to reject the proposed TactiVision application because it would confuse consumers and lead them to believe the two companies are somehow related.

The Case: Activision Publishing Inc. Versus Armorworks Enterprises Inc.

The Players:

Video gaming company Activision Publishing Inc. is best known for its first-person shooter, war reenactment game franchise entitled, “Call of Duty.” As an aside, Activision’s net income for the past few years has averaged $2.5 billion dollars per year with more than 100 million users logging in every month.

Armorworks Enterprises Inc. is an Arizona-based military contractor that manufactures digital imaging software and armor plating for military vehicles. Unlike Activision’s success, Armorworks previously filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection and was recapitalized in 2014 with the support of a private equity firm.

The Trademark Dispute:

In July 2021, Armorworks filed a trademark application seeking to register the name, “TactiVision” for its armor-related products. Arguing the proposed name is too similar and would cause confusion since it is simply the letter “T” in front of its company name, Activision opposed this request and brought an action against Armorworks before the TTAB. The Activision lawsuit requests the TTAB to block the application because the name “TactiVision” was too similar to the game producer’s name which is already a registered trademark and would lead people to believe the two companies were related.

Legal Issues Raised in the Armorworks v. Activision Lawsuit:

The pending Activision v. Tactivision TTAB trademark lawsuit focuses on one of the most important factors considered by the USPTO when granting or rejecting trademark applications—whether there is a likelihood that consumers will be confused by similar brands in the marketplace. However, this case also raises another important factor, namely whether the two proposed marks fall within the same class of products or services or whether they are in distinctly different categories. Since Armorworks does not produce video games, and Activision does not manufacture military vehicle armor products, this factor may play a deciding role in the TTAB’s decision.

Activision’s Other Trademark Litigation

Large companies with vast profits like Activision often attract legal disputes. (Read how Apple Inc. is also a common trademark litigation target.) These businesses may be forced to defend their rights or bring lawsuits to protect their interests in situations that smaller businesses don’t face. Activision certainly seems to be a magnet for trademark lawsuits in the past few years. Here are a few examples of the disputes brought by and against Activision.

Activision v.

In June 2020, Activision applied for trademark protection for the brand words, “Call of Duty” and “Warzone.” Another strategic game company, opposed Activision’s requests because it had already created a mobile platform game in 2017. Warzone sent a cease and desist letter to Activision and attempted to file its own trademark application in October 2020, four months after Activision’s application. The matter is still pending.

AM General v. Activision

In 2017, AM General, the manufacturer of Humvee vehicles, brought a lawsuit against Activision claiming trademark infringement, false advertising, and trademark dilution violations because some Call of Duty video games featured Humvee vehicles. In the game, players interacted with the Humvee vehicles, called them by brand name, and the Humvee was used in a promotional trailer to advertise Call of Duty. AM General was concerned consumers would be confused and think there was an affiliation between AM and Activision.

Activision argued that the First Amendment protected the Humvee depiction under free speech. The court balanced trademark rights against First Amendment free speech rights and ruled in favor of Activision. The court agreed with Activision’s argument that the references to Humvee were part of an expressive work that only used the name for an accurate depiction of modern warfare. The court also stated that the realistic depiction was an “artistic goal” and using authentic military vehicles furthered that goal so the inclusion of Humvees was protected by the First Amendment.

Trust a Skilled Trademark Attorney to Protect Your Future

You may not be as big as Activision, but If you are facing a trademark lawsuit or need to initiate trademark litigation to protect your rights, you can count on the team at the Trademark Lawyer Law Firm for all of your legal needs. Give us a call at 888-504-0336 or complete our short online form to schedule an appointment for a free 15-minute consultation with an experienced trademark attorney today.