Sony Computer Entertainment America and high-profile game designer David Jaffe have been sued in U.S. District Court in California for alleged copyright infringment involving the best-selling God of War series, GamePolitics has learned.
The suit was filed in late February by Jonathan Bissoon-Dath and Jennifer Barrette-Herzog, both of Davis, California. SCEA and Jaffe filed responses with the Court on August 29th.
In the complaint, Bissoon-Dath identifies himself as "the author of a series of related works of fiction, including Olympiad, a screenplay." Barrette-Herzog is described as the creator of Island at the Edge of the Living World, "a map that was submitted with Bissoon-Dath’s work: The Adventures of Own: Owen’s Olympic Adventure."
The plaintiffs allege that in 2002 they sent their work to Sony Pictures as well as agents who also did business with SCEA. Bissoon-Dath and Barrette-Herzog note that the original God of War shipped in 2005 and that David Jaffe apparently said at some point that the game had taken three years to develop.
Beyond the alleged similarity in the time line, the plaintiffs also claim that GoW shares elements of plot, character relationships, themes, settings, mood, pace and dialogue with their works. Bissoon-Dath and Barrette-Herzog list seven pages of what they allege are suspicious similarities between their work and God of War. By way of example, here a few of the claims are made by the plaintiffs:
- Plaintiff’s works tell the original story of how a champion saves Athens from destruction by the invading Spartan army that has been sent by Ares… [GoW]… is the story of how a champion chosen by Zeus and Athens saves Athen from destruction by an invading army sent by Ares…
- In plaintiff’s original work and God of War, the Champion’s family is hacked to death in a one-room building in a small peaceful village. In both stories the Champion feels partially responsible even though he is not really to blame…
- In exchange for Kratos’ pledge, Ares gives him… the Blades of Chaos… two massive, glowing, sword-like blades fastened to chains fused to Kratos’s wrists… These Blade of Chaos are taken directly from a scene in Bissoon-Dath’s work… "As Zeus strides forward… his hands MORPH into two massive swords that glow like light sabers…"
- …Owen must cross the Bottomless Valley over a long, sagging suspension bridge, shown on Barrette-Herzog’s map… in God of War Kratos must cross the Bottomless Chasm on a long, sagging suspension bridge…
GP: It would be difficult to fathom either SCEA or Jaffe being involved in something like this. After all, both GoW and the plaintiffs’ work have a basis in Greek mythology, so they are both treading similar ground from the start. But the case appears to be proceeding, at least for now.
For their part, responses filed on behalf of SCEA and Jaffe deny that any copyright infringement took place and point out that some of the plaintiff’s work (presumably the Greek mythology) lies in the public domain. In addition, the plaintiff’s delineation of specific alleged similarities are described as "inaccurate, incomplete, abstracted and/or misleading."
SCEA and Jaffe also request that they be reimbursed for legal costs incurred in defending themselves.