No matter how hard Jason West and Vince Zampella try, Michael Pachter doesn’t think the law will relinquish Modern Warfare over to them.
The lawsuit ex-Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella brought against Activision, from which they were fired in March 2010, was recently amended with fraud charges. If upheld, the pair could reportedly regain partial control over the Modern Warfare brand they created. According to industry analyst Michael Pachter, that’ll never happen.
“West and Zampella have no prayer of obtaining control of the brand,” Pachter told IndustryGamers. He reasons that West and Zampella only claimed creative control, and not control of the brand in general. Due to this distinction, Pachter says they would only be entitled to damages, but not the Modern Warfare franchise.
“As it happens, they have never claimed that they ‘own’ the brand; instead, they claim that they were granted creative control over the brand under their employment agreement,” Pachter continued. “These are two completely different things. Their creative control was clearly intended to be in effect only while they were employees, and the day that their employment terminated, their creative control ended.”
Pachter points out that a wrongful termination lawsuit can end in two ways: a legal remedy, such as compensation, or with an equitable remedy, such as the terminated employee being given his/her job back. “If they want their old jobs back, they can ask for them, but they didn’t do so,” he added. “Instead, they are blending the two concepts of legal and equitable remedies, asking for damages and asking for control over the Call of Duty brand, but not asking to be reinstated as employees. The law just doesn’t allow stuff like that, as it would be unreasonable to require Activision to grant control over its valuable property to unrelated third parties.”
While the idea of Modern Warfare‘s creators snatching the title back from Activision is very Robin Hood-esque, Pachter doesn’t believe it to be possible. Whether he knows better than West and Zampella’s lawyers is another story, though the duo could be going for a longshot.