For many, being portrayed in a video game would be the ultimate sign of “making it.” But if you have enjoyed tremendous success already, and someone attempts to profit from your success by putting you – or a likeness of you – in a video game without your consent, that may be more infuriating than flattering.
The holding company for the British heavy metal band, Iron Maiden, is suing video game company 3D Realms for $2 million over a first-person shooter game called “Ion Maiden.” The lawsuit claims the game’s phonetically similar name and other similarities to the band cause confusion among consumers. “Customers who view [the] defendant’s video game and merchandise are likely to believe that Iron Maiden is somehow affiliated with the defendant,” the claim states.
Too close for comfort
The lawsuit says the game’s logo is intentionally similar to the band’s trademarked steel-cut logo in order to further confuse consumers. It also argues that the name of the game’s protagonist, Shelley Harrison, is a play on Iron Maiden bassist, Steve Harris.
California-based 3D Realms says the lawsuit is full of “frivolous claims.” The studio said it will review its options once it has received official notice of the lawsuit and will make any necessary decisions at the appropriate time.
Past lawsuits over video game likenesses
This isn’t the first time a maker of video games has been sued for unauthorized use of someone’s likeness. Former collegiate athletes Ed O’Bannon and Sam Keller led a successful lawsuit against Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Company for using their likenesses in NCAA-branded video games without compensating them. The case was settled in 2014 for $60 million. Nearly 25,000 student athletes received settlement checks, (the average check was for $1,237), and EA stopped making the NCAA games.
Iron Maiden released its own fantasy role-playing game in 2016 called “Legacy of the Beast.” Players manipulate the band’s mascot, “Eddie,” through various challenges in search of shards of his soul. The band’s music serves as the game’s soundtrack.
In addition to the financial damages that Iron Maiden’s holding company is seeking, the lawsuit seeks to shut down the Ion Maiden website.