Activision, EA settle Infinity Ward dispute

By Steve Watts, May 17, 2012 10:30am PDT

Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts have reached a settlement in a lawsuit surrounding the firing of Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella. EA had been accused of conspiring with the pair to leave Activision form an independent studio. Neither party has disclosed the terms of the settlement, but they will reportedly ask the court to dismiss the claims.

"Activision and Electronic Arts have decided to put this matter behind them," said Activision lawyer Beth Wilkinson.

Robert Schwartz, a lawyer for West and Zampella, took a less cheerful tone. "Activision dragged EA into the case hoping to distract from Activision's wretched conduct towards West and Zampella," he said, according to a Bloomberg report. "In dismissing EA today, Activision admits that it was never going to convince anyone that EA conspired with West and Zampella to breach their contracts or did anything else improper."

This is coming out just as court documents are released, alleging that former senior IT director Thomas Fenady was instructed to "dig up dirt" on West and Zampella. The LA Times reports that Fenady expressed concern about the so-called "Project Icebreaker," but was told not to worry about repercussions. Outside companies worried about the legal hurdles, and Fenady considered a fake fumigation or mock fire drill to gain access to the pair's computers.

Ultimately, he didn't follow through on these ideas. Giant Bomb reports that chief public policy officer George Rose denies asking Fenady to dig up dirt, but does affirm he asked Fenady to monitor e-mail traffic.

With the EA matter settled and some money paid out to IWEG employees, it seems like Activision is clearing the stage for its legal battle against West and Zampella themselves. That trial is still set to go forward on May 29. The Infinity Ward Employee Group will also be included in the suit, still seeking $350 million in damages and unpaid royalties. A few days ago the group was given $42 million in unpaid royalties plus interest, which the group's lawyer called a "cynical attempt to look good before the jury trial."

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