Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War Copyright Infringement

September 17, 2008 -

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.


Comments

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

I'm sorry any similarities between the two are contrived and cliche elements present in other stories, the similarities between the blades as well go as far as 'two blades' where the GoW are descriptive if a little ott, the other is poorly written and vague at best.

 

This guy deserves to lose the case for that poor writing alone as someone explained earlier, use of another work of fiction in your own work as a similie is just one of the worst writing flaws there is, not to mention its coming from a completely different genre.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

"As Zeus strides forward... his hands MORPH into two massive swords that glow like light sabers..." 

COOL.

Not.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

It's a well documented fact that Zeus is a huge Star Wars buff. :)

Yeah, the writing is pretty bad, but if it was a screenplay then it's rather standard.  Screenplay writing has a much different focus than literature.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Zeus is clearly a Sith lord.  He cheats on his wife and uses Force Lightning.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

EPIC WIN!!!

United we Stand, Divided we fall.

There have always been motherf*ckers, there will always be motherf*ckers, but what we can't do is let them control our motherf*cking lives. -John Oliver, December 1st, 2008

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Win.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Yep, definitly one of the lamest pieces of writing I've ever read. What was wrong with just saying they were glowing swords? Did the author assume the target audience was as stupid as themselves?

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

A lot of famous writers have to deal with this sort of thing. J.K. Rowling once had to go to court because some other lady's self-published kids' book had a character named "Larry Potter" in it. When a story, in any medium, gains widespread fame, chances are it'll have at least some similarities to something else someone wrote somewhere.

On the other hand, it does happen sometimes that a studio will hear a pitch, turn it down, and then put out something at least vaguely similar later. Sometimes the studio execs forget about the pitch, and think it's their own idea, or sometimes someone else within the studio will happen to pitch a similar idea at the same time. At that point, it gets hard to prove who came up with what, and when -- but usually, if those cases do go to court, there's a big hassle, people swap accusations, and nobody really wins except the lawyers.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

The only part of this I find all that interesting are the names of the plaintiff's: Jonathan Bissoon-Dath and Jennifer Barrette-Herzog.

Double-naming is getting out of control...

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Yet another person crawling out of the woodwork years after he could have said something to try and cut himself a slice of someone elses pie.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Has anyone noticed how both plantiff's names sound as though they are from an episode of Deep Space 9?

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Yeah but nothing beats the actor's names themselves. "Nana Visitor." "Cirroc Lofton."

 

Oh, and since I've seen every single episode of TNG and DS9 this makes me giggle.. Look for a "Lolita Fatjo." She's not an actor but she's worked on the series for 15 some odd years.

 

:D

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

"Lolita Fatjo"? Sounds like a No More Heroes boss.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Travis would still try to hit it before the fight started, though.

---
The Mammon Industry

---
Fangamer

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

David Jaffe is going to have some not-so-kind words when this is all over.  I can't wait!

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

I forsee this guy crashing and burning... and having to pay a ton in legal fees.

-- mostly harmless

mostly harmless

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Wow, apparently this guy owns the copyright on Greek myth, murder, lightsabres and suspension bridges.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

He doesn't own the copyright to all suspension bridges, just the sagging ones.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Brilliant.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

"As Zeus strides forward... his hands MORPH into two massive swords that glow like light sabers..."

 

Really? Really??? This guy should be shot for such horrid writing. Referencing a work of science fiction set far in the future while writing a book about a mythological past is just stupid.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Actually, Star Wars is set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, not in the future...

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

"A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away" how is that supposed to be the future fucktard.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Lucas Arts should sue him for using their light saber idea. Which I think is more original than the double sword thing he has going.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

That's what I thought at first, too, but then I remembered that this is actually a screenplay or something for a movie, not a novel or a book, so it doesn't really need to be well written outside of dialogues as long as it gives a good idea of the action (of course it helps with the presentation when it's well-written)

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Actually Star Wars is a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.  So it isn't really set in the future.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

That's assuming that Mr Lucas wasn't going all "meta" on us by saying that he wants the audience to pretend THEY are in the future. Still, a Long time ago in a Galaxy far away could still mean only a few hundred years. Greeks were around before that too :D

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Doesn't this also mean he could get sued by George Lucas?

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

It would have more credence than his claim against Sony/Jaffe.

"I'm not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Yeah, in Greek Mythology you dont have much to work with...

If you want to ruin a main char's life you kill somebody he loves. This is used in all kinds of movies, books, tv shows, ect ect....

If you have an invading army in a greek mythology who is going to be behind this army? Hmmm... it couldn't possibly be the God of War, Ares could it?

Throw in the fact that the average person only knows of the towns of Athens and Sparta and your forced to use those as 2 main cities in your work or else you alienate ppl..

So it comes down to:  Your family dies, and you want to save athens from spartans sent by Ares.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Exactly my thoughts when I read that passage.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Ditto - HIS work should be sued for copyright infringement if that is true.  Or at the very least THAT should be the factor which gets this case thrown out - Gods or War doesn't have that feature...

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

To be fair, this is allegedly from a screenplay; such a description would be perfectly acceptable.  It's a non-diagetic image, it's being used to describe the writer's vision to the reader, not to further the story.  It's stage direction, not storytelling.

That said, this entire thing seems ridiculous.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

The examples in the articles of similiarities seem to list rather general, or cliched story elements.  The idea that the main character's family is killed in a small peaceful village isn't exactly new material.  Nor is the idea that Sparta attacked Athens.  The claim seems rather weak.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

It's been awhile since I played it but...

 

***SPOILERS***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Didn't Kratos himself accidentally kill his family??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*End spoilers*

 

 

Weak indeed...

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

If you read the entire complaint that Dennis has linked above, they note this difference in it.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Yeah, in some sort of blood lust rage.  So he didn't just "feel partially responsible," he WAS responsible.  But eh, semantics I guess.  :)

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

But don't you understand?  There was a SAGGING SUSPENSION BRIDGE.  This is a new concept that has never been seen before anywhere ever and obviously Sony Pictures seized this idea and sent it all the way over to their electronic entertainment division so they could sneak this brilliantly original concept into a video game and make tons of money off of it without doing any actual work.

Also, notice that the screenplay had a scene where a guy HOLDS TWO SWORDS AT ONCE or maybe they're hands that turn into swords but ANYWAY the game has an entirely different character who is not Zeus who HOLDS TWO SWORDS AT ONCE and clearly this is a brand-new original idea that has never been seen before anywhere ever, and because Sony couldn't have come up with this astoundingly original idea on their own, obviously they lifted it from this poor visionary's screenplay, cackling madly all the while.  Shame on you, Sony!

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

Your sword point holds true. Also in the book/screenplay/whatever, they say Zeus has the twin hand-blade things, whilst in GoW it's Kratos (plus the descriptions aren't remotely similar).

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

This is just stupid... Greek Mythology is a good source material and Sony + Jaffe made a good game/story out of that and now this arse wants money, I swear bottom feeders are getting desperate.

When Life gives you lemons, you find a new god.

When Life gives you lemons, you find a new god.

Re: Sony, Designer David Jaffe Sued for Alleged God of War

The delay in the copyright infringement seems particularly telling... God of War wasn't some underground hit but received a massive advertising push, iirc.  

 
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