Since at least 1984 The last starfighter, video game players have dreamed that the time they spend playing games would be rewarded. A federal judge recently ruled otherwise, sanctioning a lawyer for not playing enough Obligations.
On November 30, 2021, Brooks Entertainment, Inc. sued Activision Blizzard Inc. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, alleging that it had stolen the identity of Brooks Entertainment owner Shon Brooks and ripped off the copyright of Brooks Entertainment. stock picker Y save a bank games. Brooks Entertainment alleged that it owned the “SHON BROOKS” trademark, which Activision had capitalized on by making “Sean Brooks” the “main character” of the “Call of Duty Games”.1 Brooks Entertainment further alleged that, while stock picker Y save a bank were “aimed at empowering youth,” shared similarities with Obligations– Among other things, Shon Brooks and Sean Brooks had unlimited resources and missiles; bring thieves to justice; they traveled to Mars; and both games had “scripted game battle scenes that take place in a high-fashion mall.”two
On January 7, 2022, Activision’s attorney wrote to plaintiff’s attorney, stating that the “Complaint contains[ed] misrepresentations and gross errors of fact, and that the assertions set forth therein are frivolous in law and in fact.” If the plaintiff was “unwilling to dismiss the lawsuit,” the letter continued, Activision would serve the plaintiff’s attorney with a motion for sanctions under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.3 Under Rule 11(b), attorneys who file pleadings or motions in court also certify that “the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are justified by existing law or by a non-frivolous argument to extend, modify, or reverse the existing law or establishing new law” and that “arguments of fact have evidentiary support or, if specifically identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.” A party seeking sanctions must serve the motion on opposing counsel and give opposing counsel at least 21 days to withdraw or correct the contested document or claim before the motion can be filed in court.
On March 2, 2022, Activision filed its motion with Brooks’ attorney. On March 24, 2022, Activision filed its Motion for Sanctions Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pg. 11. In a statement accompanying the motion, Activision’s attorney explained:
After receiving the complaint. . . , I played the entire single player campaign of call of duty: infinity war. . . .
Based on my research, . . . I immediately realized that many (if not virtually all) of the factual allegations in the Lawsuit were not accurate. It was also immediately apparent that plaintiff’s counsel could not have played infinity war (or any Obligations game, for that matter) and filed the Complaint in good faith. For example, anyone who plays for more than a few minutes will realize that “Sean Brooks” is not the “main character” of the game. . . and Sean Brooks, the character in the game, is nothing like Shon Brooks.4
Brooks did not withdraw the complaint and instead opposed the sanctions motion. Among other things, Brooks argued: “Rule 11 does not impose a specific requirement that would have required plaintiff’s counsel to personally play the entire six-hour campaign of the Call of Duty game in order to conduct a reasonable prior investigation.”5
On July 12, 2022, the court granted Activision’s motions, dismissed the Lawsuit with prejudice, and ordered plaintiff’s counsel to reimburse Activision for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the litigation.6 The court concluded that “plaintiff’s counsel failed to conduct a reasonable investigation prior to the presentation of the relevant facts” alleged in the Complaint because, among other things, call of duty: infinity war “It’s a first person shooter, not first and third person as claimed, and Sean Brooks doesn’t play a scripted battle scene in a high fashion mall. Plaintiff’s counsel could easily have verified these facts before filing the Lawsuit without factual basis, just as the Court easily verified them within the first hour and a half of play.”7
Sometimes playing a game is its own reward. At other times, it is required by Rule 11.
For more information, contact a member of the firm electronic games practice. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati routinely advises clients in numerous fields, including e-commerce, computer software and hardware, gaming and entertainment on trademark litigation and trademark selection, enforcement and defense.
Thomas Arriaga contributed to the preparation of this Notice.
 compl. ¶ 23, Brooks Ent., Inc. v. Activision Blizzard, Inc.., No. 21-CV-2003 TWR (MDD) (SD Cal. Nov. 30, 2021), ECF 1 (“Defendants use Sean Brooks as their title character in “Call of Duty,” this character uses the likeness, person, and name of Claimant’s owner, Shon Brooks, and further infringes Claimant’s trademark for SHON BROOKS”).
 ID. ¶ 28.
 Dec. Mayer Ex. 5, Brooks Ent., Inc. v. Activision Blizzard, Inc.., No. 21-CV-2003 TWR (MDD), (SD Cal. March 24, 2022), ECF 34-2.
 ID. ¶¶ 3–4.
 Brooks Ent., Inc. Reply at 9:19–24, Brooks Ent., Inc. v. Activision Blizzard, Inc.., No. 21-CV-2003 TWR (MDD), (SD Cal. March April 28, 2022), ECF 36.
 Brooks Ent., Inc. v. Activision Blizzard, Inc.No. 21-CV-2003 TWR (MDD), 2022 US Dist. LEXIS 123344 (SD Cal. Jul 12, 2022).
 ID. at *21, *34 (footnote omitted).