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Activision sued over design of Call of Duty: Warzone's Mara

Call of Duty Mara
(Image credit: Activision)

If you’ve played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and its wildly successful battle royale mode, Warzone, you’ll have no doubt encountered the popular female operator, Mara. However, a writer is suing the game's publisher, Activision Blizzard, claiming that Mara’s design is based on a character he created.

Clayton Haugen, a writer and photographer, has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in a Texas court (via Torrent Freak), alleging that Activision Blizzard, and in turn, developer Infinity Ward, modeled Mara on a character he created named Cade Janus.

In the lawsuit, Haugen says he created Janus to be a “distinct and multi-dimensional female protagonist” for his story called November Renaissance, and even created photographs of the Cade Janus character so he could present November Renaissance to film studios.

Haugen adds that he believed his film could be successful, and that the unique female lead, Janus, would “distinguish it from an oversaturated market of action and science fiction movies”.

Haugen says he based the Cade Janus character on a model named Alex Zedra, who's the same model Activision Blizzard hired to play Mara, and claims that the developer went as far as to post the photographs that he'd taken of Zedra made up as Cade Janus on the studio wall during the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare shoot. Haugen had previously posted his photographs on Instagram.

As part of the suit Haugen’s lawyers have filed the image below, which they claim shows the similarities between the characters.

(Image credit: Clayton Haugen/Activision Blizzard via complaint)

The complaint goes on to say: “In addition to hiring the same talent, they also hired the same makeup professional who had prepared the talent for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs. They instructed the makeup professional to prepare the talent exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs.

“They instructed her to style the talent’s hair exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs, even using the same hair piece extension.”

Haugen further alleges that Activision Blizzard and Infinity Ward required Alex Zedra and the makeup artist to sign non-disclosure agreements to “conceal their planned infringement”.

The war rages on

Call of Duty: Warzone continues to be extremely popular, and unlike in previous years, Activision has stuck with Modern Warfare's battle royale mode, even after Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War released. 

The game continues to get regular content updates and new operators to play as, such as Mara, who are often locked behind paywall via a battle pass. Some operators also receive additional customization options, like new skins and weapon attachments for players to buy.

We reached out to Activision Blizzard who declined to comment. 

Via Polygon

Adam Vjestica

Adam is a Senior Gaming Writer at TechRadar. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites, and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. (He’s still recovering to this day.)