Activision box art spurs THQ suit

WWE publisher seeks to halt the sale of SCORE International Baja 1000 due to cover shot similarities with Baja: Edge of Control.

It isn't often that one gaming publisher takes another to court. However, that's just what happened last week, when THQ filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over a dispute involving the box art for their respective racing titles Baja: Edge of Control and SCORE International Baja 1000.

Baja: Edge of Control

THQ's complaint, which was filed on October 23 in the US District Court of Central California, was first spotted by Patent Arcade. According to a copy of the suit obtained by GameSpot, THQ claims that the cover art for Activision Blizzard's upcoming SCORE International Baja 1000 too closely resembles that of Baja: Edge of Control. THQ says it has spent more than $1 million on marketing since the box shot was unveiled in June.

In the art for the THQ game (pictured top), two rally cars, one red the other blue, are shown in profile in the foreground careening through a desert landscape, with another car flipping forward and one more racing to catch up. A helicopter surveys the scene in the background. Activision's box art (pictured bottom) also shows two race cars in profile in the foreground, one red and the other silver with touches of blue. However, the similarities seem to end there, as the landscape is a canyon environment, and the two front-runners are trailed by a dirt bike.

In THQ's complaint, the publisher claims that the offending art is "likely to confuse, cause mistake, or deceive the public" into thinking that Activision Blizzard's game is "sponsored or approved" by THQ and that there is an affiliation between the two companies. THQ also notes in its complaint that it contacted Activision Blizzard through both written and verbal communication, but the SCORE International Baja 1000 publisher refused to comply with a request to make changes.

SCORE International Baja 1000

"If Activision releases the Activision Game to consumers with the packaging art depicted...THQ will suffer harm for which it has no adequate remedy at law, and which is irreparable," reads THQ's complaint. The publisher is therefore seeking to bar the sale of Activision's game. Were the court to not grant this request, THQ's complaint seeks damages as determined by a jury.

A THQ representative declined to comment on the ongoing litigation. Activision Blizzard had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.

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85 comments
KWHCoaster
KWHCoaster

Found in an internal Activision memo - "Alright, who authorized using a Chinese graphic arts firm?!"

niteowl360
niteowl360

I previously suggested that Activision was probably trying despeartely to piggy back off the excellent THQ BAJA offering, with a probable mediocre experience. However, if you can stomach the early bike races, the game surprisingly does get better! Even the curious 'boost' option becomes playable and certain of the events are indeed challenging. Graphics are often appealing (not always), and the game is addictive. The real fault is to title this production 'Official BAJA'. Certainly from watching TV coverage of this great event, Activision has some resemblance of the real thing, but where the game excels is in terms of FUN (slightly behind THQ IMO). If points is your bag, 800 you'll achieve with ease, with the final 200 a sweat in acing 4 taxing time events. Probably a weekend away, whereas THQ will keep you honest for a week. If I had to take one with me to a desert island, it would be THQ. But if I was on the island for longer than a week, I'd take both!

rkipker
rkipker

Art can not be patent, if I was on the jury, I would not find for the plaintiff. That being said, I played the EOC game on 360 and personally thought it sucked, so disappointing the old rainbow studio XL Games

ewmgreendawg
ewmgreendawg

the official slogan of activision "steal the best, half-ass the rest"

niteowl360
niteowl360

Following on my earlier post we can confirm why Activision saw it fit to copy the THQ box art. They did indeed need to confuse the buying public in the hope that unexpecting consumers would pull their product off the shelf instead of the superb THQ offering. http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/927/927115p1.html I realise one review can't provide any ultimate conclusion, but when the reviewer compares the 2 games (albeit briefly) and the reader has experience in one of them, it does aid in making the review credible.

carllfc
carllfc

What a bunch of babies

Monkeyseat
Monkeyseat

@Hairy_Pirate: I agree, THQ's box art looks much better.

tevic
tevic

@ Harless: that's the problem actually, because the name of both games is the same: BAJA.

Hairy_Pirate
Hairy_Pirate

THQ should stop crying, their cover art looks much better. If I had to choose one or the other without prior information on either game, and based only on the cover art, THQ wins. Anyone agree?

cooldude03
cooldude03

My big question is why is Activision/Blizzard putting out games like this when they got rid of games like Ghostbusters, Riddick 2, and other must own titles. I think we should all sue Activision for losing faith in good games. Granted I haven't played this Baja game but all I'm saying is they let go of awesome games in order to put out lesser known games.

harless
harless

I'm sorry but who cares about the art? I mean a game is bought by NAME, not "Oh hey, that picture looks like the game I want to buy." THAT'S WHY WE'RE TAUGHT TO READ PEOPLE.

evilorder
evilorder

It looks like Activision just tried to do more of a cgi version of Thq's art. The carbon copy of concepts, positioning and such are so blatent. Even the lettering of the titles are reasonably close. There is no way they didn't see Thq's art and gameplay. It's their competition, of course they did. How very unimaginative indeed.

Petri87
Petri87

What about Rock Band and Rock Revolution?

tudyniuz
tudyniuz

they do look almost the same:lol:

Get_Shorty
Get_Shorty

Well how many different ways can you best make cover art for a Baja type game. It's just a coincidence. Activision would have the same problem THQ would and they aren't worried about it.

majere613
majere613

The two pictures are certainly way too similar for comfort- they look a lot like two pieces by the same artist where someone has done a few drafts to get the composition right. At it's most innocent, it's just possible that the designers for the two covers were trained in the same way and that the composition is based on a design checklist- if you look at some books on the subject the guidelines on how to place what and at what angle are suprisingly detailed- but I'd say ActiBlizz are looking at a new cover, unless they hire OJ's lawyer or something :P

niteowl360
niteowl360

To my mind the cover in question is 'to a reasonable man' too close to the THQ Title to warrant this law suit. One needs to look at the intention of Activision as clearly there are a wealth of other screenshots / designs that could make this title appealing to its intended market. For example why not have a cover including Bikes which would be an immediate plus if comparing the two games. No doubt if the game lives up to Activision expectations, there would be a myriad of in game content that would be ideally suitable to produce a compelling Cover. BAJA from THQ has probably been my best racing title with the engine so far ahead of that used by other 'rally' developers eg Codemasters in DIRT. Good luck to THQ and I'll happily continue with their title till this mess gets sorted out which in my opinion is worthy 'mud' slinging from THQ's perspective. Activision should fire their Marketing Team responsible and compensate their audience for the delay!

KBABZ
KBABZ

I'll list the similarities: - Same colours for primary cars - Red car has light-set-thing on the top - Red car also has two people visible in the front - Left guy has his hand out and pointing to the right - Similar car positions, especially since the blue one is in the air at the same relative position to the red car - Camera angle is similar

Royas
Royas

There aren't too many images available to represent Baja racing, I'd think pretty much all the covers would have similarities like this. I don't really see a problem. They seem different enough.

kos1085
kos1085

Looks very close to me so THQ may have a good case.

ropumar
ropumar

I have to agree with THQ. Seems like a intentional copy using subliminal message tricks. I have to give credits to activision tho, they did a great job using a subliminal tools to get an edge in a competitive world. *but if you think about, this is a great marketing for both companies. Since brought up the attention of a new activision game nobody knew and increased the curiosity in the THQ game already released. And rest assured comparison of which is the better game will rise after baja1000 is released making someone think of buying the one that seemed better even if both are mediocre.*

ahyumifan
ahyumifan

Baja Edge of Control is not well rated game.. and I don't think Baja 1000 will be either.

BMWPro77
BMWPro77

Gosh I know the economys' tight but this is rediculous.

I1yodsyo1I
I1yodsyo1I

Sony Rep: 2 rally cars in a canyon landscape? Call my lawyer! They just ripped off Motorstorm! Obviously, who gives a crap?

KaotixGTX
KaotixGTX

So is there a problem with Activision just changing the box art? I mean is it really too late?

JimBurber
JimBurber

Umm, every single Baja game in history looks similar to this cover. I mean, I am pretty sure my copy of Ivan Ironman's Super Off Road has the same cover art!

robx360
robx360

This is horrible. The THQ company will probably be consumed by ea or even activision within a few years. Just a way to waste money in a bogus suit.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

Personnaly. First person to release it should win the suit. The other should suck it for releasing their secrets early... if that was all they were banking on.

RadTad62
RadTad62

the evidence is damning it looks like the same picture but from a different angle

t8trg8tr
t8trg8tr

Most of the time I'd say they're jus being greedy, but those two are practically identical. I compared the two, and Baja 1000 is definetly trying to rip of Baja: Edge of Contol.

tevic
tevic

I also saw the similartity a few days ago. Also, 2 Baja games in the same season when nobody has ever heard of that place, is a little strange. Incredible as it might seem, Activision has maybe tried to profit from the THQ game by releasing a low-budget Baja game at the same time, hoping for a confusion between the two. That would also explain why there is almost no public information about Activision's game, which will be on sale tomorrow (!), except a trailer and the info that the game is "very realistic". I really wonder...

Mau-Justice
Mau-Justice

Yea, I'd be annoyed too. How can you say THQ is greedy? They look Identical.

hunter8man
hunter8man

This is one of the few cases that might actually be worth something. It does look like a rip-off.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

Eh.. this could be a tough one to decide actually. The fact that two companies have licenses for one sport means there will be inherent similarities, right down to what a photo of such a sport would look like. This is somewhat like if one NBA game maker sued another for having a basketball player on the cover dunking. Granted the player could have a different jersey and face, but it's kind of the same. How do you depict BAJA racing without recreating the BAJA:EoC cover in some way? I suppose they could change the colors a bit and alter the characters, but still. It's a pretty specific type of imagery that is thought up when thinking BAJA. Also, it's worth nothing that THQ's BAJA game might sell better if it turns out Activision-Blizzard's BAJA game gets better reviews and worth of mouth etc. Chances are good they are going to beat a 6.5.

leimeisei
leimeisei

Totally understandable. The new box art is obviously a blatant ripoff of the old one.

CorporateHammer
CorporateHammer

Please, if your stupid enough to buy the wrong game HA HA. On the other hand they must think people really are that stupid. Similar yes, exact copy No. This is plain stupid.

BradHummr
BradHummr

Wow. Those are really close. xD Red buggy with lights and a trophy truck in almost identical positions? I'm on THQ's side for this. I know I'd be annoyed.

ctg867
ctg867

I think it's legitimate. A company has as game and they have box art for it that comes out months in advance. They use the box art to promote the game with their own money, and the competitor pretty closely rips off the layout for the box art. They have the right to sue.

Jigsaw9798
Jigsaw9798

Wow, if I wanted Baja and did't know the subtitle, i might have accidently picked up the Activision crap.

Simulator_Shock
Simulator_Shock

*sigh* people will go to court over the most inane things just to get some money...

Velric
Velric

At first I was like, sure, the angle is similar and they both have the word Baja... but then I looked closer at the vehicles. Definitely something going on there.

A7Xfan
A7Xfan

There's a reason but it also shows how many games are pretty much the same in the boxed retail market. Because the games probably play almost identically.

LivingDeadNinja
LivingDeadNinja

They are indeed ridiculously similar. WTF is wrong with Activision to do this? Seriously hoping THQ wins here...

DrKill09
DrKill09

When I first saw the ad for Baja 1000, I thought it WAS THQ's Baja! :shock: I had to take a closer look. I hope THQ win. This is the biggest ripoff of cover art since the movie poster for Street Kings copied the artwork from The Club.

Roggirek
Roggirek

I smell lawyers being paid to argue colors and truck trajectory...