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Administrative procedure is important in business litigation

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

In recent news, 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 mechanics that are important in a business dispute.

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 settled 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 game portrays the use of U.S. military accessories, weapons and vehicles.

For this reason, Electronic sued for declaratory relief. According to the dispute, the license was pointless because the use of helicopters was expressive and supported by the First Amendment.

However, 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 reasons. Venue is a matter that concerns the court in which a claim is pursued.

Nevertheless, the judge has indicated that Bell admitted that it "has no ownership interest in the intellectual property at issue." Also, Bell was incorrect that Electronic's case had forum problems. Specifically, 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 an example of how important it is 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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