The crossover combination of legalities and video games isn’t anything new - gaming lawsuits happen all the time. Take for example, people like Patrice Désilets, who have struggled to wrestle back the rights to their games - in his case he had to rescue 1666: Amsterdam from the clutches of Ubisoft, after they wrongfully terminated him. In the world of video games, lawsuits are pretty common as people fight for ownership, censorship, and more. Of course, not every lawsuit makes sense - and some are downright silly.
It’s important to know when and how to pick your battles when taking the fight to judicial arenas. And over the years, much like non-gaming related legal fisticuffs, what we find betwixt are cases of individuals and parties alike who abuse the judicial system for the pettiest, and sometimes hilarious, of reasons. Whether these lawsuits by gamers are justified or not, they make for interesting reading.
Get ready to chuckle and strain your neck with constant head shaking, these are the most ridiculous lawsuits in gaming.
Lindsay Lohan v. Grand Theft Auto V
In 2014, Lindsay Lohan filed suit against Take-Two Interactive, the developers of the best selling Grand Theft Auto V, for allegedly using her image without consent in creating the character Lacey Jonas. Lohan’s attorneys would even go as far as to say that Lacey wears a hat similar to hats that Lohan herself wears. Plus, throwing up peace signs is a hand gesture that is somehow unique to only Lohan.
It was later revealed that the true visual inspiration behind the creation of Lacey Jonas was a model named Shelby Welinder, who was hired by Rockstar through her talent agency and even took a pic of the paycheck as proof.
The court dismissed Lohan’s case because: “works of fiction and satire do not fall within the narrow scope of the statutory phrases ‘advertising’ and ‘trade'”.
Guy from Russia v. Bethesda
In December 2015 an unnamed, 28-year-old man from Krasnoyarsk filed suit against Bethesda for making Fallout 4 “too addicting.” The individual had gone on a hardcore play binge for three weeks straight, skipping out on work, skipping out on friends, and skipping out on his wife. As a result, he lost all of the above.
The lawsuit sought 500,000 rubles ($7,000 US) in damages for emotional turmoil. The individual had already obtained representation through the “Single Center of Protection” who, despite expressing some hesitation in making a case against a foreign company, were willing to see how far they could take it.
While his losses aren’t a huge surprise in light of sacrificing his priorities, it’s obvious that there were already a number of factors in play to have lost his wife and job in the meager span of three weeks.
CandySwipe v. Candy Crush
The war for ownership of long-established words in the English language continues. In February 2014, King, the developer of the hit mobile game Candy Crush Saga, pursued copyright claims against any and all games that utilized the words ‘candy’ and ‘saga’ in their names. This, of course, sparked a lot of concerns amongst developers, but the silliness did not stop there.
It was brought to light that Albert Ransom, creator of CandySwipe, had been locking horns with King over their respective creations’ names ever since Candy Crush Saga’s release in 2012. The kicker: CandySwipe was released in 2010. Ransom had long been concerned about confusion between both titles, not just in name, but also the fact that much of Candy Crush’s gameplay elements, including icons, were nearly identical to CandySwipe. Ransom would go on to pen a fierce open letter directed at King, with memorable lines such as “I hope you’re happy taking the food out of my family’s mouth.”
Two months later, the dispute came to an end. Ransom posted on his site that both parties amicably agreed to withdraw their claims and their respective games will continue to coexist without any changes. Around the same time, King and another developer, Stoic, also came to the same agreement with regards to Stoic’s The Banner Saga.
Capcom v. Koei Tecmo
On August 27, 2014, Capcom filed a multiple patent infringement lawsuit against Koei Tecmo, seeking 980 million yen ($9.43 million US) in damages. One of the patents that Capcom claimed to have filed in 2002 is the concept of "a function that lets you acquire new content by combining an existing game with another piece of software." In other words, Capcom is trying to sue Koei Tecmo for utilizing expansion packs, downloadable content, and add-ons - distribution elements that have long been utilized by practically every game developer even way before 2002.
As of this time, neither side has commented on the status of the case. And the original motivations behind Capcom’s actions is still unknown.