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Civil procedure is important in business disputes

As many Florida companies know, when companies engage in business litigation, they will use legal strategy to attack every part of an opponent's case. For example, a business might fight the administrative details surrounding the actual filing of the suit. These particulars often include jurisdictional or venue-related matters.

Recently, a federal judge has ruled that Electronic Arts may pursue claims that its combat game "Battlefield 3" does not infringe on a military helicopter maker's trademarks. This case touches base with some procedural technicalities that are important in a business dispute.

The dispute began when Bell Helicopter Textron, the designer and manufacturer of the AH-1Z, UH-1Y and V-22, had formerly sued Electronic Arts in 2008 over "Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - Vietnam." Subsequent to this resolved lawsuit, Bell granted Electronic licensing rights to prior games in the "Battlefield" series. Recently, however, Bell notified Electronic that the agreement did not concern "Battlefield 3." "Battlefield 3" depicts modern-day armed conflict. The video game portrays the use of U.S. military accessories, weapons and vehicles.

As a result, Electronic sued for declaratory relief. According to the dispute, the license was not needed because the use of the helicopters was expressive and entitled to First Amendment privileges.


In response, Bell counter-sued with trademark and trade-dress claims. It also asked the court to stay, transfer or dismiss Electronic's case for venue-related issues. Venue is a matter that concerns the court in which a claim is pursued.

Nevertheless, the judge has indicated that Bell accepted that it "has no ownership interest in the intellectual property at issue." Also, Bell was incorrect that Electronic's case had forum problems. The judge felt that Bell's own arguments were quite contradictory--especially in relation to its own selection of a court.

This case serves as a lesson that it is important to be aware of every portion of a case. Beyond main legal theories, business litigation also concerns very important procedural matters.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Video game weapons dispute can charge on," Jonny Bonner, May 2, 2012

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