In an effort to end or at least reduce rampant cheating in Call of Duty, Activision fought back with RICHOCET Anti-Cheat.
The system reportedly identified and banned 50K cheaters across Warzone and Vanguard during the first day, but also faced stiff opposition from cheat makers determined to undermine it.
Early January 2022, Activision filed a lawsuit against cheat makers EngineOwning UG and CMN Holdings S.A (both German companies), plus six named individuals (Valentin Rick, Leonard Bugla, Leon Frisch, Ignacio Gayduchenko, Marc-Alexander Richts, Alexander Kleeman) and 50 ‘Doe’ defendants.
The defendants faced claims of trafficking in circumvention devices under the DMCA, contract interference, and unfair competition. The situation was aggravated when a lawyer working for Activision claimed he’d been ‘trolled’ by the defendants, one of whom said they would never be found.
Determined Activision Applies Pressure
In common with similar cases, some of the ‘Doe’ defendants were known to Activision only by their online handles. The court allowed the gaming company to conduct broad discovery against a number of services, including internet service providers, payment providers, and social media websites, to help put more meat on the bones.
Activision’s amended complaint, supported by new information obtained during discovery, was months in the making but is far more substantial than the original.
In addition to the copyright infringement, contract, and unfair competition allegations, the defendants now face claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Two further counts of racketeering (RICO) relate to offenses that allegedly began as early as 2012 and remain ongoing.
Previously-named German corporate entities EngineOwning UG and CMN Holdings S.A are now listed alongside Garnatz Enterprise Ltd, a Belize corporation, according to Activision. Previously pseudonymous/anonymous defendants are further named as follows:
Leon Schlender, Erick Pfeifer, Bennet Huch, Zain Jondah, Ricky Szameitat, Marcel Bindemann, Alexander Kleemann, Remo Löffler, Marvin Baotic Neumeyer, Hendrik Smaal, Charlie Wiest, Dennis Reissleich, Tyler Byrd, Simon Masias, Nicholas James Baldwin, Antonio Median, Eemy Cartigny, Pascal Classen, Manuel T. Santiago, Katerina Disdle
Complex Case With Broad Geographical Spread
Activision previously advised the court that it would serve the defendants under the Hague Convention. Several defendants retained counsel in the United States, with Activision noting that others could be found in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, or the Netherlands.
In a recent order, District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled on a joint stipulation between Activision and defendants Rick, Schlender, Bulga, Kleeman, Richts, Gayduchencko, Frisch, Huch, Classen, Loffler, and EngineOwning UG, that requested more time to respond to the amended complaint.
With the extension granted, the defendants must now respond on or before January 13, 2023. If they move to dismiss, a collective memorandum of not more than 14,000 words will be allowed in support of their motion, with Activision allocated the same for any motion in opposition.
The order applies only to the defendants listed in the order dated December 19, 2022. The remainder will be handled separately or as the court sees fit.
The joint stipulation/order and first amended complaint can be found here (1,2, pdf)