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Judge rules that Call of Duty can have Humvees in it because games are art

Erin Fox

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Judge rules that Call of Duty can have Humvees in it because games are art

Back in 2017, Activision was sued by AM General, the manufacturer of the Humvee, over its use of the famed military vehicle in the Call of Duty series. AM General complained that Activision doesn’t have a license to use the Humvee in its games, yet it has “reaped billions of dollars in revenues from their wrongful acts and … irreparably harmed AM General by causing significant confusion” among consumers. The company demanded an injunction against Activision’s use of the Humvee, and the usual array of damages, legal fees, and whatever else the court deemed “just and proper.”

The case finally came to an end earlier this week, and as reported by Ars Technica, the court came down squarely on the side of Activision, determining that it has a First Amendment right to use the Humvee trademark in its games.

Courts tend to interpret US trademarks laws narrowly when dealing with artistic works in order to protect them from undue legal action, Judge George B. Daniels said in his ruling. He then detailed a “two-prong test” used to determine whether artistic works can use trademarks without facing liability, a process that includes both a determination of “artistic relevance” and an application of the “Polaroid factors”—a “likelihood of confusion” test that emerged from a 1961 case between Polaroid and Polarad.

With that baseline established, the judge got into the specifics of the Call of Duty case, first declaring that the use of Humvees in the series is artistically relevant because it “evokes a sense of realism and lifelikeness” in a game that ostensibly aims to realistically portray modern warfare.

The test used to determine likelihood of consumer confusion were also found to weigh in favor of Activision. Regarding “the sophistication of the buyer,” for instance, the ruling points out that the world’s militaries are not accidentally buying Call of Duty games instead of large vehicles. “One problem for Plaintiff on this point is that the purchasers of Humvees—that is, some 50 militaries from around the world, including the US Armed Forces—are not buying Call of Duty, and vice versa,” the ruling states. “There is no risk whatsoever that someone will buy the wrong product by accident out of sheer confusion about who built or distributed the product.”

Daniels acknowledged that “a modicum of confusion might be present,” but said that AM General failed to demonstrate that the use of the Humvee is explicitly misleading. Activision, on the other hand, “offered a persuasive explanation: The uses of Humvees in the Call of Duty games enhances the games’ realism.”

“If realism is an artistic goal, then the presence in modern warfare games of vehicles employed by actual militaries undoubtedly furthers that goal,” the ruling states. “The inclusion of Humvees in the foreground or background of various scenes—including several instances of players using Humvees to advance to the next level—are integral elements of a videogame because they ‘communicate ideas … through features distinctive to the medium’.”

Ultimately, the judge ruled that AM General failed to demonstrate any harm to its trademarks arising from the presence of Humvees in the Call of Duty series, and that any “dilution” that might occur as a result must be “tolerated in the interest of maintaining broad opportunities for expression.” As a result, the suit was summarily dismissed, the artistic merit of videogames was further reinforced by the courts—and our digital Humvees remain safe.

From television to the internet platform, Erin switched her journey in digital media with News Brig. She served as a journalist for popular news channels and currently contributes his experience for News Brig by writing about the tech domain.

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Bosch’s motorcycle crash detection automatically alerts emergency services

Erin Fox

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Bosch's motorcycle crash detection automatically alerts emergency services

The service also relies on the sensor’s integrated crash algorithm to determine whether a motorcycle truly got into an accident or whether it just fell over, for instance. If Help Connect decides that a vehicle got into an accident, it will transmit information about the scene and the rider to the Bosch Service Center. In severe accidents, the service could use the rider’s phone to find their location and direct emergency responders to the scene.

Help Connect will initially be available in Germany, Bosch’s home country, only. According to Autoblog, though, the company plans to expand its availability to other markets at a later time.

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Call of Duty adds screen that says Black Lives Matter

Erin Fox

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Call of Duty adds screen that says Black Lives Matter

Infinity Ward just released an update for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare that adds a splash screen message in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Players are being told they need to update their client upon finishing multiplayer games, and once they do, the message appears on screen.

“Our community is hurting,” the statement reads. “The systemic inequalities our community experiences are once again center stage. Call of Duty and Infinity Ward stand for equality and inclusion. We stand against the racism and injustice our Black community endures. Until change happens and Black Lives Matter, we will never truly be the community we strive to be.”

The News Brig has confirmed that the message subsequently appears every time you launch Modern Warfare on a PS4. It also appears on loading screens and when switching to a separate mode like Warzone.

Several video game companies have issued statements of support for black communities this week following protests against police brutality in the US and the killing of George Floyd. Placing the message in front of everyone playing a hugely popular first-person shooter, however, could help it reach a wider group of people.

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Toshiba expects drop of 15.7% in annual profit, limited coronavirus impact

Erin Fox

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Toshiba expects drop of 15.7% in annual profit, limited coronavirus impact

FILE PHOTO – The logo of Toshiba Corp is seen behind cherry blossoms at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo, Japan April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) – Toshiba Corp expects annual operating profit to drop 15.7%, it said on Friday, as a recent portfolio overhaul helps the industrial conglomerate limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

It forecast profit of 110 billion yen ($1 billion) for the year through March 2021, down from 130.46 billion yen a year earlier.

The outlook compared with the 136.71 billion yen average of 13 analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv.

($1=109.2000 yen)

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki

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