Thompson starts another fight as Bully issue simmers
Judge recuses himself from Bully case while Florida lawyer turns his attention to Mortal Kombat: Armageddon for "an unauthorized commercial exploitation" of his likeness.
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Those who thought the denial of Jack Thompson's attempt to have Take-Two's Bully banned would leave the Florida attorney quietly sulking in the corner apparently don't know Jack.
While Thompson couldn't stop Bully from being released, he did have choice words for the judge who heard his case, and he was made to appear before the court yesterday at the request of Take-Two's lawyers to explain why he shouldn't be held in contempt of court. The hearing began with Judge Ronald Friedman engaging in a series of sharp exchanges with Thompson. As can be seen in video of the even posted on Destructoid.com, at one point Friedman summoned a bailiff when Thompson attempted to display a large white cardboard sign.
Friedman then proceeded to tell Thompson that he felt "the statements made to this court about this court by Mr. Thompson, I find inappropriate for a member of the Florida bar, unprofessional, and contemptible." Friedman then read several excerpts from letters from Thompson, in which he called the original Bully hearing "a disturbing abortion of justice" and threatened to sue Friedman personally.
Another tense verbal exchange between a visibly agitated Thompson and an oddly serene Friedman followed. Friedman then said that he had filed a complaint with the Florida bar and that he was going to recuse himself from the case. He warned Thompson that the next judge "might not be as kind" as he had been. Thompson quickly countered with a brief verbal fusillade of his own blasting Friedman's decision while declaring respect for his office.
While Thompson is still in the thick of his Bully battle, he made time today to fire off a cease-and-desist order to Midway Games. He wants the publisher to stop distributing Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, but contrary to what one might expect, he didn't cite the game's over-the-top violence as a reason to stop selling it.
"It has today come to my attention that the newly recently [sic] Mortal Kombat: Armageddon contains an unauthorized commercial exploitation of my name, photograph, image, and likeness within the game," Thompson wrote in an e-mail addressed to Midway president and CEO David Zucker and carbon-copied to several news outlets. "You are commanded to cease and desist immediately from the distribution of this game because of this unauthorized, illegal content." (Emphasis in original.)
While Armageddon does boast a roster of more than 60 characters, Thompson isn't among them. Judging from a photo of the game included with Thompson's e-mail, he is referring to a character made using the game's kreate-a-fighter mode. The photo was part of a feature on Gaming Target yesterday, which contained formulas for making a number of unlicensed characters from the game's various customization options. Other familiar faces in the feature included Hulk Hogan, Ash from Army of Darkness, director Kevin Smith in his Silent Bob alter ego, and Friday the 13th antagonist Jason Voorhees.
A similar issue went to court in 2004 when Marvel Comics sued City of Heroes publisher NCsoft and developer Cryptic Studios claiming that the game infringed on its trademarks by allowing players to re-create trademarked Marvel characters using the game's create-a-character tools. The parties settled out of court in December of last year, and earlier this year it was revealed that the comic company is now working with Cryptic on Microsoft's new massively multiplayer online game based on the Marvel Universe.
As of press time, Midway had not responded to a request for comment.