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Miscellaneous May Updates
UBISOFT LAWSUIT EFFECTIVELY KILLS AREA F2 CLONE GAME
Within days of Ubisoft filing its complaint, Ejoy announced an immediate “service closure” of Area F2 (AF2). The announcement, which claims that AF2 reached the top 3 of App Store free-to-play game rankings in some regions, does not mention the lawsuit. Instead, it focuses on the developers’ purported unwillingness to “accept an experience that we cannot deliver smoothly to as many players as we can.” The announcement coyly mentions that some “in-depth adjustments” may be necessary, including “perhaps even a complete overhaul of the design….”
While this is obviously an important victory for Ubisoft, it would have been interesting to see what defense tactics the defense counsel (Quinn Emanuel) came up with this time and, more importantly, how Apple and Google would have handled the safe harbor question. I was particularly interested in this case —and the safe harbor issue — after receiving the U.S. Copyright Office’s Section 512 report. Among other things, the report observed:
Based on the information obtained during the course of the Study, the Office notes that the mechanisms and requirements for submission of takedown notices, adopted in recent years by many of the larger OSPs, are no longer in sync with these provisions. Two developments in particular have reshaped a rightsholder’s experience of submitting a takedown notice under section 512: (i) the adoption of additional notification requirements by many OSPs, and (ii) the increasing reliance on web-based submission forms with friction deliberately built into the process.
In fairness to the platforms, they do receive tons of request. How many exactly? The Copyright Office’s report notes that “[i]n 2017, Google received notices identifying about 882 million URLs, and has processed requests to delist more than 4.6 billion URLs for copyright violations to date.”
CEO OF RENEGADES ESPORTS FRANCHISE CONSENTS TO FINRA DISCIPLINE
In 2002, Christopher Roumayeh, the CEO of the Renegades esports organization, entered the securities industry. In October 2008, he became associated with Merrill Lynch as a general securities representative, and although he is no longer associated with any FINRA-regulated broker-dealers, he remains subject to FINRA’s jurisdiction.
From 2014 to 2019, Roumayeh engaged in two business activities without providing prior written notice to Merrill Lynch. First, he and his “firm customer” purchased the Renegades franchise. Roumayeh managed the day-to-day operations as the Renegades’ manager and formed five different corporate entities, while soliciting prospective investors for the Renegades franchise. In addition, Roumayeh formed and managed a separate LLC through which he purchased commercial real estate. According to FINRA, by engaging in these business activities without providing prior notice to Merrill Lynch, Roumayeh violated FINRA Rules 3270 and 2010. Finally, in March 2019, Roumayeh participated in a private securities transaction by soliciting a publicly traded company to invest approximately $5.5 million in exchange for Renegades shares — again, without notifying Merrill Lynch of this outside business activity.
Roumayeh agreed to a $15,000 fine and a 21-month suspension from association with any FINRA member.
GUANGDONG HIGH COURT RELEASES TRIAL GUIDELINES FOR ONLINE GAME-RELATED IP DISPUTES
Tracey Tang, a partner at Broad & Bright, has written a LinkedIn post about the April 2020 trial guidelines issued by the Guangdong province’s High Court for online game-related IP civil disputes in an attempt to guide and unify proceedings. Ms. Tang writes that “[w]hile not binding on other courts in China, the Trial Guidelines are likely to be influential throughout China.” You can read her full write-up here.
ACTIVISION WINS MOTION TO COMPEL IN E.D. TEX. COPYRIGHT CASE
Normally, when we think of the Eastern District of Texas, we immediately think of patent cases. In Huffman v. Activision Publishing Inc., et al., however, we have an ongoing copyright case brought by WWE wrestler, Booker T. Huffman, alleging that Activision copied one of his ring-name personas, “G.I. Bro,” to create the character “Prophet” in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
Activision filed a motion to compel Huffman to produce responsive documents related to works involving the G.I. Bro character, including: (1) documents related to his licensing of his own likeness for other video games; and (2) QuickBooks files related to his revenues and profits from selling G.I. Bro comic books and posters. Activision advanced three arguments in support of its motion to compel.
The court ordered Huffman to produce the documents related to licensing his own likeness for other video games, but bought his argument that he didn’t have any documents in the second category and so granted the motion only as to the first category.