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Activision Responds to Infinity Ward Lawsuit, Is "Disappointed"

| 4 Mar 2010 19:48
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Activision has issued a public response to the lawsuit filed by co-Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella, calling it "meritless" - and meanwhile seems to be trying to link the duo to rival publishers like EA.

When we first learned that former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella were suing their former bosses over the Infinittwardämmerung from earlier this week, it was inevitable that the industry giant wouldn't take these claims lying down.

In a public response, Activision has called the claims in the suit "meritless," and expresses that it is "disappointed" in the actions taken by the two men. The Activision statement notes that the publisher provided the financial capital and independence needed to start Infinity Ward in the first place, and says that the two ex-executives failed to "honor their obligations" under contract, justifying their termination.

Activision would also like to remind everyone (as per this statement) that it owns the Call of Duty franchise, though the statement curiously does not mention Modern Warfare in particular.

Activision is disappointed that Mr. Zampella and Mr. West have chosen to file a lawsuit, and believes their claims are meritless. Over eight years, Activision shareholders provided these executives with the capital they needed to start Infinity Ward, as well as the financial support, resources and creative independence that helped them flourish and achieve enormous professional success and personal wealth.

In return, Activision legitimately expected them to honor their obligations to Activision, just like any other executives who hold positions of trust in the company. While the company showed enormous patience, it firmly believes that its decision was justified based on their course of conduct and actions. Activision remains committed to the Call of Duty franchise, which it owns, and will continue to produce exciting and innovative games for its millions of fans.

It sounds reasonable, but then again these arguments always sound reasonable beforehand - West and Zampella's did, too. That's what the court is for, of course.

Intriguingly enough, G4's Patrick Klepek managed to get his hands on what he calls "Activision internal legal memo from a source close to the company" that, if genuine may well clarify exactly what angles Activision is pushing.

"The Dispute involves West and Zampella's management of IW, as well as the development and marketing of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ("MW2"), and potential subsequent games developed by IW," says the memo - reportedly sent internally before any lawsuit was filed or publicly announced, "Activision believes that it has done nothing wrong and intends to vigorously defend any claims asserted by West and Zampella."

Activision seems to believe - even within the company - that it is legally in the right, and that the courts will uphold this. To bolster its case, however, it seems that the lawyers will be looking for documents proving a number of things including (but not limited to):

* "Documents regarding past, current or future IW projects, including but not limited to any and all businesses analyses of future projects (e.g. Modern Warfare 3)"

* "Documents regarding any potential 'spin out' of IW, including but not limited to any communications with IW employees, West or Zampella regarding forming a new studio independent of Activision"

* "Documents regarding West and Zampella's communications with Activision's competitors, including but not limited to Electronic Arts"

The first and second aren't very surprising. Anyone who didn't expect a hypothetical Modern Warfare 3 to enter the picture at some point, raise your hand and slap yourself with it, and West and Zampella seeking to perhaps leave IW and start a new company isn't coming out of left field, either. It's the third that's the interesting one, though.

Apparently, Activision thinks that West and Zampella were talking to its competitors, naming Electronic Arts by name. That seems to be the big one, and if Activision can find any evidence of that, it may well have a case on its hands.

West and Zampella are reportedly seeking "at least $36 million" in damages, plus control over the Modern Warfare brand.

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