MW3 Website Dispute Ends in Favor of Activision
A few months ago, it was discovered that the domain ModernWarfare3.com was not owned by Activision. Not only that, it was apparently owned by someone whos not a particularly big fan of the Call of Duty series, and he made sure the website demonstrated that. This prompted Activision to file a complaint in order to secure control of the domain, which it has now been granted.
The domain was first registered on March 26, 2009. For part of this time, it hosted anti-Call of Duty content; for instance, one particular section read, "Modern Warfare is crap. On November 8, 2011, the most over-hyped first-person action series of all-time returns with the copy and paste sequel to the lackluster Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Check out the E3 2011 gameplay demo featuring the Black Tuesday level for a look at the epic fail of the campaign. Pre-Order Call of Duty MW3 Today for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC to secure exclusive bonuses only available online for Modern Warfare 3 fanboys who dont know that Battlefield 3 is the better game."
Other areas reference Modern Warfare 3s biggest competitor, Battlefield 3, as being "the better game." A note at the bottom of the page did make it clear the site isnt official or owned by Activision. The design of the site itself wouldnt make that clear, however, and its not as if the average website visitor makes a habit of reading the footer.
At one point, going to ModernWarfare3.com would redirect visitors to the official site of Battlefield 3. EA denied it owned the MW3 domain or that it had anything to do with it. Activision later said it had sent a take-down notice to the domains owner, Anthony Abraham, which is what it feels prompted the sudden redirect.
Shortly after that, Activision decided to take action and file a complaint with the goal of obtaining control of the domain. The criteria necessary for a domain to be canceled or transferred include several things: you must show a domain is "identical or confusingly similar to a trademark," prove the offending domains owner "has no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the domain name," and show that the domain was registered "in bad faith."
Activision said it believed that each of these conditions was met. The decision from the National Arbitration Forum (via Fusible) lists all three of Activisions allegations: it owns the Modern Warfare trademark and claims the domain is "confusingly similar;" Abraham has "no rights or legitimate interests" to the domain; and Abraham is using it in bad faith. Abraham denied all of this and argued that "modern warfare" is a generic term that Activision doesnt have the right to exclusively use. He also claims he made fair use of the domain before being notified of the dispute.
As expected, the decision favored Activision, and control of the domain will be transferred to the publisher. As of this writing, the domain currently goes nowhere, and a whois search still lists Abraham as its owner. Theres no exact time table for when hell have to turn it over, but Activision can rest assured it wont have to worry about ModernWarfare3.com disparaging its products or promoting the competition ever again.
The same cant necessarily be said for ModernWarfare4.com, should that particular name ever be used for a game. Activision doesnt own that domain either, though the owner explains he or she doesnt want money for it.
"We took this domain for opportunistic giggles. If Activision were in a position to buy this domain, Id ask them for a donation to a charity of my choice. Probably Help for Heroes -- you know, those guys that dont get the ability to respawn when the timer hits zero..."
Like Abraham, this person also seems to be a fan of Battlefield. The last question of an FAQ asks, "What now?" with an answer of, "Well, Im buying Battlefield 3.. Fancy a game?"