Intellectual Property Law

Imprisoned ex-dictator Manuel Noriega sues over use of his persona in 'Call of Duty: Black Ops II'


Image from Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
Courtesy of Activision Blizzard Inc.

Activision Blizzard Inc. may have thought imprisoned former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was libel-proof.

But that doesn’t mean the California-based company gets to profit from using his persona as “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state” in its popular “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” video game without his consent, Noriega said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The legal action also says the game portrays the now-80-year-old “as the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes, creating the false impression that defendants are authorized to use plaintiff’s image and likeness.”

Filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for alleged misappropriation of the Noriega’s image, as well as disgorgement of profits, according to Courthouse News and the Los Angeles Times’ Technology Now blog (sub. req.).

Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese in Los Angeles is representing Noriega in the suit, which asserts claims for alleged violation of Noreiga’s common-law right of publicity, unjust enrichment and unfair business practices.

Activision didn’t immediately respond to the newspaper’s request for comment Tuesday evening.

Noriega was ousted in 1989 by a U.S. invasion and arrested. He served some 15 years in federal prison after being convicted in 1992 by a Miami jury on racketeering and drug trafficking charges, as the Los Angeles Times reported at that time.

After his 2007 release, he was extradited first to France and then to Panama, where he is now serving a 20-year prison term, Courthouse News notes. CNN and the Telegraph have stories about those cases.

Related coverage:

CNN: “Lindsay Lohan sues over ‘Grand Theft Auto V’”

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