It appears that Ubisoft’s legal team contacted what seemed to be an unaware website owner regarding a post that one of his site’s registered forum users made, depicting Jade Raymond (the games producer) and the Assassin’s Creed trademark in a way that the legal representative stated was “extremely offensive” and “pornographic”.
The site owner, upon receiving the email from the legal department, posted it on the forum and made the registered users aware of the issue. While their response was less than sympathetic, the image appears to have been removed. The owner also stated that he would be shutting down the forum.
The legal response, in its entirety can be viewed below.
VIA EXPRESS MAIL AND EMAIL
Attn: Richard Kyanka
RE: Infringement of ASSASSIN’S CREED Mark and Jade Raymond’s Personal, Privacy, and Publicity Rights
Dear Mr. Kyanka:
We are counsel to Ubisoft Entertainment S.A. (“Ubisoft”), publisher of the popular video game ASSASSIN’S CREED and employer of Ms. Jade Raymond (“Ms. Raymond”). Ubisoft is also the owner of the following U.S. trademark applications for the ASSASSIN’S CREED mark (the “Mark”): Serial No. 78850944; Serial No. 78866696; and Serial No. 78850968. In consequence of Ubisoft’s extensive efforts and expenditures, substantial goodwill has been built up for Ubisoft and the products and services sold under the Mark, and the ASSASSIN’S CREED game is one of the most widely anticipated games of the year.
Ubisoft has recently learned that the extremely offensive pornographic image (the “Image”) accessible at http://sabretooth.mirror.waffleimag…dd47ceb2a5.jpg, a copy of which is attached hereto, is being used on your website located at http://www.somethingawful.com and/or other related sites, including, but not limited to, http://forums.somethingawful.com (collectively, the “Site”). Such Image and misuse of the ASSASSIN’S CREED mark constitute trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition in violation of common law trademark rights, the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§1125(a) and 1125(c), and state law.
Furthermore, the Image’s blatant, vile, and unauthorized misappropriation of Ms. Raymond’s name and likeness, and your conduct in using the Image on your Site, have caused immeasurable harm to Ms. Raymond’s reputation and career, and constitute an egregious infringement of Ms. Raymond’s personal rights and privacy rights. The Image and your conduct also constitute an egregious unauthorized commercial exploitation of Ms. Raymond’s rights of publicity in violation of, without limitation, her common law rights of publicity and California Civil Code §3344, which provides in relevant part:
“Any person who knowingly uses another’s name, .., photograph, or likeness, in any manner, on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods or services, without such person’s prior consent…shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or persons injured as a result thereof.”
It is well established that a person who commercially exploits the name or likeness of someone without their consent is liable for all of the damages caused thereby. Additionally, the Image and your conduct in using the Image on the Site constitute unfair business practices and false advertising in violation of the California Business and Professions Code; intentional infliction of emotional distress; a violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1125(a); and harassment, which is a criminal offense.
Please also note that any failure to comply with applicable privacy laws may result in direct action against you by the Federal Trade Commission, in addition to other litigation.
Ubisoft hereby demands that you immediately: (1) permanently remove the Image from your Site, databases and servers and prevent any further uploading or display thereof; (2) permanently cease and desist all unauthorized use and hosting of images using the ASSASSIN’S CREED mark and Ms. Raymond’s name and/or likeness; (3) provide us with the name and contact information of the person who originally created and/or posted the Image; and (4) complete, execute, and return to me the enclosed Declaration by November 16, 2007 to confirm that you are complying with Ubisoft’s demand.
While Ubisoft hopes to resolve this matter quickly and without resort to further legal action, Ubisoft reserves all rights to seek appropriate legal relief, including attorneys’ fees, injunctive relief, statutory damages, costs, and enhanced damages.
for Nixon Peabody LLP
1. I am the owner of the website located at www.somethingawful.com.
2. I have permanently removed the image that was previously accessible at http://sabretooth.mirror.waffleimag…bdd47ceb2a5.jpg from www.somethingawful.com, forums.somethingawful.com, all other related sites, and all databases and servers under my ownership and/or control, and have implemented measures to prevent any further uploading or display thereof.
3. I have permanently ceased all unauthorized use and hosting of images using the ASSASSIN’S CREED mark and Jade Raymond’s name and/or likeness.
4. I have provided Ubisoft Entertainment S.A. with the name and contact information of the person who originally created and/or posted the Image.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, I declare under the penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed on ____________, 2007 ________________________
Nixon Peabody LLP
555 West 5th Street, 46th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90013