Dictator Manuel Noriega's Absurd Lawsuit against Call of Duty Creator is Dismissed

Oct 28, 2014

Ruling Comes One Week Before Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is Released

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Judge William H. Fahey of the Los Angeles Superior Court today ruled in favor of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) with respect to its motion to strike former dictator and convicted murderer Manuel Noriega's frivolous lawsuit against the creators of the popular Call of Duty® franchise. The ruling marked a significant victory for the genre of historical fiction in all types of expressive works of art, including videogames, movies, television and books. Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor and named partner of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, argued along with co-counsel Kelly Klaus of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP.

"This ruling is an important victory and we thank the court for protecting free speech," said Rudy Giuliani. "This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we're gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn't win. This is not just a win for the makers of Call of Duty, but is a victory for works of art across the entertainment and publishing industries throughout the world."

"Today's ruling is a victory for the 40 million dedicated members of our Call of Duty community and global audiences who enjoy historical fiction across all works of art," said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. "I want to thank Mayor Giuliani, who has dedicated his life to the protection of citizens against terrorists like Manuel Noriega and today for defending free speech."

The stories in the Call of Duty franchise, like many movies and television programs, are inspired from the headlines of history. From the Cold War to World War II and even the advanced soldiers featured in the upcoming Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare, the games are grounded in historical events even though they are fictional. Call of Duty regularly features iconic villains, such as Fidel Castro and Manuel Noriega, as well as celebrated heroes such as President John F. Kennedy.

The motion to strike was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on September 22 on the grounds that the minor inclusion of a Noriega character in Call of Duty®: Black Ops II is protected free speech. The legal action sought to dismiss Manuel Noriega's complaint at the outset under California's anti-SLAPP statute, a state provision enacted to protect freedom of speech against spurious lawsuits. Lawyers for Manuel Noriega filed a response to the anti-SLAPP motion on October 2, and Activision filed its reply to that response the following week. The Los Angeles Superior Court heard arguments on the matter at a hearing on October 16. Relevant legal documents can be found HERE.

In the unlikely event the lawsuit had been permitted to proceed, Noriega's efforts could have provided numerous historical and political figures a veto right over their appearances in works of art, having a chilling effect on everything from movies like Forrest Gump and Zero Dark Thirty, to television programs including Saturday Night Live and Boardwalk Empire and even to popular books such as The Paris Wife.

A taped video of co-counsel Rudy Giuliani discussing the key themes of the case is available HERE.

About Activision Publishing, Inc.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Publishing, Inc. is a leading global producer and publisher of interactive entertainment. Activision maintains operations throughout the world. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company's website, www.activision.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Information in this press release that involves Activision Publishing's expectations, plans, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including statements about the potential impact of the Noriega lawsuit, are forward-looking statements that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause Activision Publishing's actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include unanticipated product delays and other factors identified in the risk factors sections of Activision Blizzard's most recent annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Activision Publishing and Activision Blizzard as of the date of this release, and neither Activision Publishing nor Activision Blizzard assumes any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements believed to be true when made may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are not guarantees of the future performance of Activision Publishing or Activision Blizzard and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond its control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.


Activision Blizzard
Mary Osako, 424-322-5166
Rubenstein Communications
Farrell Sklerov, 212-843-8289

Source: Activision Blizzard, Inc.

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