Even though Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War didn’t receive as much hype as the other titles in the long-running franchise, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare still remains to be one of the most popular first-person shooter titles in the industry. Rumors claim that the next DLC for the game will be released very soon, and it’s clear to see that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare—and its counterparts—will only be going up from here.
However, it’s a completely different story on a legal level. It appears that there’s a hurdle to Modern Warfare’s success, and it’s one that surprised many of us in the video game community. A man named Clayton Haugen has filed a lawsuit against Activision for copyright infringement. According to Haugen, the design of an iconic character from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was replicated from a copyrighted character of his.
The character in question is Mara, one of the important characters in not only Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but in Call of Duty: Mobile and Call of Duty: Warzone as well. Haugen claims that Mara was a ripoff of his character, Cade Janus, to who he has rights.
The basis of his lawsuit and his claim stems from the fact that both characters are allegedly inspired by the same set of images: a cosplay photoshoot from cosplayer and actress Alex Zedra that was commissioned by Haugen.
Haugen states that the photoshoot was included in a pitch for a movie that was all about Cade Janus, and Activision allegedly copied it after as a basis for the fan-favorite Mara. If Haugen wins this lawsuit, then this could mean that Mara will no longer be available in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare this year and going forward.
The lawsuit further claims that Mara played a significant role in Activision’s marketing for the first-person shooter, and is the reason why the title became so popular. After all, it’s uncommon for the Call of Duty franchise to heavily feature a female protagonist. As such, Haugen claims that the fact that the company made Mara front and center in their marketing campaigns is a major reason why the game is seeing incredible success.
Although the pictures from the photoshoot he commissioned weren’t the exact basis of Modern Warfare’s character, Haugen claims that Activision made Zedra recreate everything that was done in Haugen’s shoot in an effort to create an exact replica of the design or at least the closest possible copy.
Because of this, Haugen has requested a trial by jury for his copyrighted character. If Activision loses this case, the company could hand over a whole lot of money to Haugen. Even though Call of Duty’s community of fans hasn’t been happy with the ads found in the more recent titles, it can’t be denied that the franchise as a whole has been incredibly profitable for Activision, especially Modern Warfare.
That being said, it doesn’t seem as if Haugen’s claims are rock solid. For starters, it would be extremely difficult to prove that Mara’s character design was a direct ripoff of Cade Janus, especially since both characters are already existing archetypes, to begin with.