Manuel Noriega, a former Panamanian dictator from 1983 to 1989, has announced he’s suing Activision for the “blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation and misappropriation for economic gain” of his likness in 2012’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
Now 80-years-old and residing in Panama, Noriega’s suit claims:
Plaintiff was portrayed as an antagonist and portrayed as the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes, creating the false impression that defendants are authorized to use plaintiff’s image and likeness. This caused plaintiffs to receive profits they would not have otherwise received.
Noriega also claims Black Ops 2 portrays him “as a kidnapper, murderer, and enemy of the state,” with one objective in the game being to capture Noriega.
The lawsuit continues:
Defendants’ video game, ‘Black Ops II,’ features several nonfiction characters, including plaintiff, for one purpose: to heighten realism in its video game, ‘Black Ops II.’ This translates directly into heightened sales for defendants.
Defendants deliberately and systematically misappropriated plaintiff’s likeness to increase revenues and royalties, at the expense of plaintiff and without the consent of plaintiff.
Represented by Girardi & Keese, Noriega is seeking damages for unjust enrichment, unfair business practices, and violation of common-law publicity rights,” as well as punitive damages for “lost profits” and other charges.
With Activision yet to file a response, Video Games, Entertainment and Tech Lawyer Jas Purewal told the BBC that they might not have to:
“In the US, individuals have what’s called the right to publicity, which gives them control over how their person is depicted in commerce including video games.”
“It all focuses upon the American legal ability for an individual to be only depicted with their permission, which in practice means payment of a fee.
But Noriega isn’t a US citizen or even a resident. This means that his legal claim becomes questionable, because it’s unclear on what legal basis he can actually bring a case against Activision.”
If any more news develops around this lawsuit, we’ll let you know.