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Developer NovaLogic suing Activision for use of 'Delta Force' trademark

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NovaLogic, developer of the first-person shooter series Delta Force, is suing Activision for the use of its core franchise's name in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

NovaLogic, developer of the first-person shooter series Delta Force, is suing Activision for the use of its core franchise's name in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

NovaLogic currently holds a trademark on "Delta Force," which it's possessed since 1998. Since then, the developer has released nine games under the moniker, with a tenth (Delta Force: Angel Falls) purportedly still in development. Despite their possession of the trademark, Activision and Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 3 includes a number of missions in which players control elite operatives of a unit called Delta Force.

Here's where things get tricky: As the NovaLogic complaint points out, there's no official U.S. military unit called Delta Force upon which Activision could base said missions. However, there is a Special Operations unit called 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), which is colloquially referred to as Delta Force — but not by the U.S. government.

"The U.S. Army officially denies that any unit called Delta Force exists and does not claim ownership to either the Delta Force name or the logo," the complaint reads.

It gets even deeper: The emblem used by Modern Warfare 3's Delta Force closely resembles the logo for NovaLogic's Delta Force, save for the inversion of a lightning bolt used in both. The 1st SFOD-D wears the U.S. Army Special Operations Command insignia — a red arrowhead surrounding a dagger — though the "unofficial" emblem of Delta Force (as seen on the cover of the autobiography of Col. Charlie Beckwith, the unit's founder) is nearly identical to the insignias used in both games.

NovaLogic claims that Activision has ignored two cease-and-desist letters sent in May and December of last year. The studio is now seeking damages and an injunction for trademark infringement. We've reached out to Activision for a comment.