Activision—the Call of Duty company and one half of the largest acquisition in videogame history—has dropped its lawsuit against Anthony Fantano—online music critic and pizza meme guy—mere weeks after launching it, Axios reports.
Activision originally sued Fantano to stop him suing it first. Fantano is the creator of the "Enough slices!" meme, an audio clip of the critic becoming increasingly alarmed as a pizza is cut into infinitesimally smaller portions that you've almost definitely encountered in a TikTok somewhere. Activision used the meme itself in a short TikTok video about (stay with me here) Crash Bandicoot-themed sneakers, and Fantano apparently took exception.
According to Activision's original court filings, Fantano "suddenly decided that Activision’s video infringed his publicity rights and constituted a false endorsement" despite his meme featuring in other TikTok videos without issue, and demanded "that Activision either immediately pay him substantial monetary damages or be prepared to defend a lawsuit" even after the company took the offending video down.
Describing itself as "the latest target of Fantano's scheme" to "selectively [threaten] to sue certain users of the Slices Audio unless they pay him extortionate amounts of money," Activision decided to take him to court instead, hoping to get a judge to declare its behaviour was all kosher within the terms of TikTok's terms of service.
But that's all in the past, in the mist-shrouded and halcyon days of July this year. As of last Thursday, Activision has dismissed its "entire action" against Fantano, "including, without limitation, all claims alleged therein, with prejudice." For those of you who haven't ever been taken to court by a multi-billion dollar corporation before, "with prejudice" pretty much means "forever and ever": Activision can't decide that, actually, it does want to sue Fantano after all somewhere down the line.
And, uh, well, that's it. In contrast to its original court filings, which ran into the tens of pages decrying Fantano and his actions, Activision's notice of voluntary dismissal runs a laconic two pages, one of which is the title, and the second of which consists of a single paragraph that I pretty much just quoted in its entirety.
Well, how odd! No matter how hard you look, it seems that Activision just isn't keen to tell anyone why it's decided to row back so hard and so fast in its case against Fantano, meaning all we have is speculation.
It could be that the company found some reason its case wasn't as solid as it thought, or that it would have to commit more resources to it than it previously estimated, or even that it reached some behind-the-scenes accord with Fantano to let everyone extricate themselves from the mess with their dignity intact.
Then again, maybe not. It could be that Activision's withdrawal of its lawsuit has cleared the way for Fantano to launch the lawsuit he originally threatened. Neither party seems particularly keen on speaking to the press right now: Activision tells me it's declining to comment on the issue and while I have, optimistically, reached out to Fantano, I never got word from the critic when I reached out to him about the original lawsuit. Nevertheless, I'll update this piece if I hear back.