Modern Warfare 3 isn't supposed to kick off until November, but a dispute over a website devoted to the game is already flaring up. According to a report on domain-tracking blog Fusible, Activision is looking to seize ownership of ModernWarfare3.com through a complaint filed with the National Arbitration Forum.
Originally registered in March 2009, ModernWarfare3.com bills itself both as "a 100 percent unofficial fan site dedicated to the Modern Warfare series," as well as "a parody of Modern Warfare 3." While the site has for some time openly criticized the Activision shooter as a retread of the series, it drew particular attention recently when it temporarily forwarded all ModernWarfare3.com traffic to the official website of Electronic Arts' competing military shooter Battlefield 3. In its complaint, Activision described the forwarding as retaliation for a takedown notice it sent related to copyrighted content that had previously appeared on the site.
For Activision to win ownership of the site, it would have to show that ModernWarfare3.com is "identical or confusingly similar to" its own trademarks related to the series, that the operator of the site has no legitimate interests for use of the domain name, and it was registered and used in bad faith. The complaint indicates the ModernWarfare3.com owner would be able to retain the name if "making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or tarnish the trademark."
However, Activision is arguing that ModernWarfare3.com ran ads for GameStop and Best Buy, making it a commercial venture, and that the forwarding to a direct competitor's website is sufficient to show the site was run in bad faith. At the moment, the site no longer directs to Battlefield 3's site and appears to be free of advertising.
In establishing its own claim to the brand, Activision's complaint noted that the publisher has spent more than $24 million in the US alone on marketing the Modern Warfare installments of the Call of Duty series. As of press time, neither Activision nor the admin of ModernWarfare3.com had returned GameSpot's request for comment.