In a new lawsuit levelled at Call of Duty publisher Activision, writer and photographer Clayton Haugen has alleged that the Call of Duty character Mara is based on a character he developed called Cade Janus. Both characters have been portrayed in live action photoshoots by the same model, Alex Zedra.
A press release provided by Potts Law Firm, who are representing Haugen, says that he created Cade Janus as part of “a story treatment to draw interest from various movie production companies,” along with a photoshoot of Alex Zedra portraying the character. The release says Haugen posted these details and images on his website to attract attention, though he no longer appears to have an active website. The images appear on his Instagram account, though these posts don’t include a name or details about the character.
The Call of Duty character Mara was released a few years later in December 2019 as part of Modern Warfare‘s Season One. Model Alex Zedra provided the likeness for the character model, as well as modelling in live-action promotional imagery for the character. Mara has since been released in Call Of Duty Mobile and Warzone.
The lawsuit alleges that Activision used Haugen’s images when developing Mara, as well as hiring the same model and makeup artist used for his original shoot. It also claims that those involved were made to sign non-disclosure agreements to cover up the infringement.
The same legal team are currently involved in a similar lawsuit also targeting Activision, with wrestler Booker T. Huffman claiming that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Prophet is a copy of his G.I. Bro alter ego. That lawsuit is set for trial in April.
The trial has similarities to a lawsuit filed against GTA V publisher Take-Two Interactive by Lindsay Lohan, with the actress alleging that the game character Lacey Jonas was unlawfully based on her. The case was thrown out when a five-judge panel concluded that Jonas was simply a “generic” twenty-something female character.
Activision has successfully defended itself against other lawsuits in the past, including one brought by Humvee manufacturer GM for the use of its vehicles in Call of Duty games, and lawsuits involving depictions of real people including Jonas Savimbi and Manuel Noriega.
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