Booker T. Huffman, famous among wrestling fans as WWE superstar Booker T., has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Activision alleging that the Call of Duty character David "Prophet" Wilkes is based upon GI Bro, a persona Huffman created in the early years of his wrestling career.
In 2015, Huffman collaborated with Travis Huffman (no relation) on drawings based on the character, and ultimately a comic book called GI Bro and the Dragon of Death. Huffman has promoted the character and books by appearing as GI Bro at comic events, and is credited as the author and sole owner of the property. He's also applied for copyrights on the artwork and comics.
Prophet's first appearance, in Black Ops 3, depicted him as heavily augmented with cybernetics. But in last year's Black Ops 4, he appears as his pre-aug self, and therein lies the trouble: Huffman's filing includes an image of the GI Bro art next to a Black Ops 4 promo shot of Prophet, and superficially at least, they do look very alike.
Micah Dortch of Potts Law firm, which is representing Huffman, put it in somewhat firmer terms in a blog post. "When seen side-by-side there can be no question that this character was copied from GI Bro. From the hair, body type and clothing, right down to facial expressions, the similarities are too profound to be an accident," he said.
"Booker T. has devoted a significant amount of time and money creating and organically growing his GI Bro character. That entrepreneurial investment should not be erased by such a blatant act of copyright infringement by a gaming juggernaut."
The lawsuit states that Black Ops 4 achieved $500 million in sales in its first three days of release, and total sales "are thought to exceed one billion dollars."
"Booker T. has never authorized Defendants to reproduce his GI Bro works, including the depictions of the characters 'Book' or 'GI Bro,' in any form. Booker T. has never entered into any agreements of any kind with Defendants; in fact, to his knowledge, Booker T. has never personally had any contact with Defendants," it says. "These infringing activities have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in sales of infringing copies of Booker T.'s GI Bro works."
The lawsuit, available in full from Scribd (opens in new tab), "respectfully demands" a trial by jury, details of which will be filed in a separate document. And now here's GI Bro in an Ambulance Match with the late, great Mike Awesome. Wait a minute! It's Diamond Dallas Page with the chair from behind!