10 Dumbest Lawsuits in Gaming History

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There's a reason the Darwin Awards exist; people can be idiots. You know someone, somewhere, at some point in time decided to have a bleach drinking context, because product labels now have to indicate that you totally shouldn't decide to ingest cleaning chemicals. And why did companies decide to start labeling everything as dangerous if not handled properly? Because the same idiots who drank all that bleach decided it was Clorox's fault for not warning them about the satisfying tingling sensation/inner third degree burns that would be laced down their trachea.

Lawsuits are about as common as air molecules Some are genuinely needed by people have been wronged by a party, others are just lawfully invalid and will be thrown out the moment they reach a desk. However, in rarer cases, one lawsuit pops up that is just so laughably insane that every news outlet will be reporting on it. In fact, some of these most ridiculous lawsuits happen to originate from the video game industry itself. So sit back, relax, pour yourself a cup of Clorox, and enjoy learning about ten of the dumbest video game lawsuits that have ever graced the industry. 

Lindsay Lohan Vs Rockstar Games

Anyone who seems to take pride in their cocaine-ridden public image certainly needs some form of psychiatric help. That, or actress Lindsay Lohan might be desperately trying to raise enough money for Disney to finally make her film memoir Confessions of a Meth Addict Drama Queen.

Grand Theft Auto V was a smash success across the world, receiving praise from critics and gamers alike for its dark humor, open world gameplay, and plethora of missions to take part in. However, Lindsay Lohan, a once fairly prominent actress in her glory days, didn't appear to love it as much as everyone else. That blonde lady on the game's cover art, in-game celebrity Lacey Jonas? Yea, Lohan claims Rockstar Games ripped the character off of her real life, Disney-downfall personality. I don't know what's worse, someone openly admitting that their existence is a close match to a washed up celebrity caricature, or the fact that the lawsuit is still on-going.

The Olsen Twins Vs Acclaim Entertainment 

Every celebrity wants their fifteen minutes of fame. It just so happens that for Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, their fifteen minutes of fame peaked when they were younger than fifteen. Seriously, these two young blondes were everywhere in the 90s'. Television shows, movies, cheap toys made in a Chinese sweatshop, their young adolescent faces were popping up more often than Justin Bieber's mugshot. 

And then their young celebrity bubble popped. So, like the adults they were, they obviously just took note of their failures and tried to take their careers in a new direction, all without blaming anyone else for said shortcomings, right? Well, as it turns out, their line of video games hadn't been doing so well, and they were the first to be blamed for the twins' dwindling fame. 

When Acclaim pulled the plug on the Mary Kate and Ashley series of games, the twins hired a lawyer to sue Acclaim for $180,000 in damages, remarking how the publisher "blatantly abandoned the Mary Kate and Ashley brand and has taken the brand in video games which had flourished and has now run it into the ground." After all, it's not like their acting careers have been driven into the ground since then.

Universal Studios Vs Nintendo

King Kong, Donkey Kong, Konga LinesYou'd think companies would trust us to know the difference, but that's not how Universal Studios saw things.

On June 29, 1982, Universal sued Nintendo over the character of Donkey Kong, claiming it was too close of a resemblance to their King Kong character. And it's not like Donkey Kong was scaling the Empire State Building or anything in Super Mario Bros (unless you happen to look at the photograph and think I'm lying, spoiler alert, that's a joke image,) all you needed to have was a giant gorilla becoming too popular, and Universal was bound to swoop in and take all your money.

What Universal failed to realize was that they had used an argument in a previous court case that could be utilized against them. Universal had stated that the characters and scenarios of King Kong were open to public domain. Meaning, whether Donkey Kong was too close of a resemblance to King Kong or not, it was completely irrelevant as the character couldn't be subject to copyright. Nintendo won the case and was awarded $1.8 million in damages. Universal later tried to appeal the ruling, but the verdict was upheld. 

While it proved to be successful for Nintendo, showcasing to the world they were capable of taking on bigger name companies, this lawsuit just made Universal look like a bunch of baboons. 

No Doubt Vs Activision 

One would think that if you were letting a game studio use your likeness in an upcoming title, you would try to become familiar with said franchise before letting them do so. Said idea must not have crossed No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani's mind, however, as she took offense to her video game character being able to sing in a male's voice (if the in-game song was already sung by a man.)

No Doubt brought up a lawsuit against Activision, and their game Band Hero, just a day after its release. Despite being told from the get-go that in-game avatars would be capable of this after being unlocked, No Doubt still found a problem with Gwen Stefani's image not being restricted to just No Doubt songs. The case was settled out of court with undisclosed terms, and no mention of who was awarded what.

There's No Doubt in my mind that this lawsuit was just plain ridiculous. But Gwen Stefani is "Just a Girl," and must have felt like she was "Trapped in a Box" by her in-game likeness. After all, she didn't want to come off as a "Hollaback Girl" (oh wait, No Doubt didn't make that one, crap...) 

Jack Thompson Vs Manhunt

Hey you, check it out! It's everyone's favorite video game slanderer Jack Thompson! You know who he is, he's the man who continuously tries to ban games he thinks are "too scary" for people, and that parents can't be trusted to decide if their child is mature enough to play a game or not. 

Rockstar Games is no stranger to controversy (please see the first slide if for whatever reason you skipped over that.) However, all that initial controversy seems like nothing compared to the murder of fourteen year old Stefan Pakeerah. When seventeen year old Warren Leblanc was linked to his friend's murder, a copy of Manhunt was found in his possession. So of course, everyone blamed it as the reason Leblanc became a murderer, as it's not like Leblanc should take responsibility  for committing the act or anything. 

Believing Rockstar was wholly to blame, Jack Thompson attempted to have the game banned from American store shelves. Although this lawsuit fell through, it's not like Manhunt 2 fared any better in the wake of controversy. Some feared that the Wii version of Manhunt 2 would have the player simulate stabbing their victims by wielding the controller as a knife. The problem was that said news outlets never realized how inaccurate the Wii motion controls can be. 

It's considered an offense to own a copy of Manhunt in New Zealand. So while everyone else is whining about how Rockstar is trying to corrupt our youth and brainwash them into becoming killers, I'll just go ahead and play my AO rated copy of Manhunt 2 on my laptop, thank you very much. 

The Romantics Vs Activision 

I'm sure everyone reading this has picked up a plastic guitar and rocked out to Guitar Hero at one point or another in their lives. And while the games were relevant before their bubble popped, everyone was having a blast with the games. So, of course, plenty of bands and artists wanted their songs to be a part of the games. You would think giving written permission to use your song in a video game would be more than enough of a reminder to not try and sue the developer, but apparently the old grumps formally known as The Romantics had forgotten to take their morning pills. 

In 2007, the rock group The Romantics attempted to sue developer/publisher Activision for including a close cover version of their song "What I Like About You." With the group demanding the song be removed from Guitar Hero titles, a federal judge in Detroit denied the claim, noting that Activision "did exactly what the company was supposed to do" in securing music copyright permission.

Broken and defeated, lead singer Wall Palmar hobbled back home in disgust, where he immediately started planning a new single titled "What I Don't Like about Activision."   

Silicon Knights Vs Epic Games

It's one thing to make a bad game. You just have to pick yourself up, and try something better next time around. It's an entirely different matter, on the other hand, when you blame a developer that had nothing to do with creating the game for your end product being bad.

Too Human turned out to be a pretty big disappointment for Xbox 360 fans. However, instead of developer Silicon Knights admitting fault for their mediocre adventure title, they instead turned around and sued Epic Games for an alleged breach of contract. They even went so far as to claim Epic Games withheld code to intentionally make Too Human doomed from the start. And yet, this lawsuit actually backfired for Silicon Knights, as Epic Games was awarded $4.5 million in damages, all while Silicon Knights was forced to recall unsold copies of Too Human from store shelves. 

Too Human? No, it sounds like Silicon Knights was just being Too Stupid

Jack Thompson Vs Bully

So now it's the third time Rockstar Games' controversy has been mentioned in this slideshow. It also marks the second time Jack Thompson has been showcased as the lawsuit aggressor. I'm sensing a pattern here. 

Released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, Bully was immediately met with a whirlwind of backlash from naysayers. While critics and audiences praised the game for it's anti-bullying message and fun narrative, people who hadn't experienced the title immediately claimed it was a game that rewarded bullies and encouraged children to be aggressive. Jack Thompson, once again, filed a lawsuit against Rockstar Games, wishing for the game to be banned from store shelves. The judge ruled that the game's "vicious" content was nothing that couldn't already be seen on late night television. And seeing as how Thompson is as mature of an adult as can be, he ridiculed the judge for allowing such a "toxic game" to continue being sold. Freedom of speech is a funny thing sometimes. 

Wilson Vs Midway Games

All kids are bound to do something stupid when they're young. Sometimes they learn it from their parents, other times they learn it from watching television. But whatever small mistake they do make is usually harmless. Something that just warrants a simple life lesson and a slap on the wrist, to ensure they'll never do such a silly imitation ever again. That is unless they decide to murder their friend or something. 

Thirteen year old Noah Wilson was killed by his friend Yancy Salazar, who was also thirteen. As tragic as the event was, and as understandable as it is for parents to be grief-stricken, the Wilson family chose not to put the blame on Salazar, but rather the video game Mortal Kombat he happened to enjoy playing. Andrea Wilson, the victim's mother, claimed that Salazar was so obsessed with the game, his reality was obscured and made him believe he was a Mortal Kombat character and tried to perform a fatality move on his friend. The case was dismissed when Wilson's "complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." 

I guess you could say the end result of this lawsuit was a FLAWLESS VICTORY for Midways Games. I'm going to hell, aren't I? 

Edge Games Vs Anything 'Edge'

Mirror's Edge, Edge of Nowhere, Edge Magazine. Oh you're all in for it now! How dare you use a word so common as "Edge" in your name, when clearly Edge Games should own 100% of the trademark and profit off it. Meanwhile, Sony should also own "Let's Play" videos, the the Fine Brothers should hold a monopoly over people's reactions to YouTube shorts. 

Sound asinine to you? Well, it apparently didn't for Edge Games, as in 2010 they attempted to sue Electronic Arts for publishing the game Mirror's Edge. Not because they found it disappointing or anything, but because it contained the word "edge," a word they had attempted to trademark. They also tried to make the words "cutting edge", "the edge", and "gamer's edge" a trademark of their company. An entire game titled Edge had to be removed from App stores, as Edge Games founder Tim Langdell had threatened to take legal action against the game's creators, claiming he owned the world trademark for the word "edge." 

Thankfully, this didn't go over so well for Edge Games, as the trademark office eventually threw out all five claims for the phrases. Like Paris Hilton trying to market "That's Hot" or Donald Trump trying to trademark all things moronic in nature, Edge Games eventually faded into obscurity once the lawsuit vanished alongside their reputation.

Have a juicy lawsuit we missed? Did someone sue Geico after contracting salmonella from a gecko? How about someone taking up claims against McDonald's for running out of nuggets? Be sure to comment and let us know what your favorite, completely ridiculous, lawsuit has been over the years, whether it's related to video games or not!

Published Aug. 3rd 2016

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