Axl Rose’s Guitar Hero lawsuit chopped in half

By | Published on Thursday 16 August 2012

Guitar Hero

Axl Rose’s slowly progressing lawsuit against videogame maker Activision had another trip to court for a preliminary hearing this week. Though it wasn’t quite as successful as the Guns N Roses singer might have hoped, with one of his claims against the company being dropped.

As previously reported, Rose sued Activision for breach of contract and fraud back in 2010 over his previous involvement in the ‘Guitar Hero’ franchise. He argued that the company showed a digital animation of one time GNR guitarist Slash while the band’s ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ was played, and also included songs by Slash’s newer band Velvet Revolver in the same edition of the game, both of which were specifically prohibited in his contract with Activision, he said. The breaches, Rose reckoned, were worthy of $20 million in damages.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, an LA judge on Tuesday questioned why Rose had not filed his lawsuit until November 2010, three years after the original game came out – pointing out that part of his legal claim was therefore not valid because of the statute of limitations.

In a deposition, Rose countered: “The reason I did not file a lawsuit is because Activision – through my managers and representatives – offered me a separate video game and other business proposals worth millions of dollars to resolve and settle my claims relating to ‘Guitar Hero III’. From December 2007 through November 2010, Activision was offering me a Guns N Roses dedicated video game, a game dedicated to music from the ‘Chinese Democracy’ album, and other proposals”.

His lawyer then added that Rose had only decided to go legal when he discovered that “Activision had been intentionally concealing its plans to use [Velvet Revolver] and Slash in the game all along”. Thus, Team Rose reckoned, the statute of limitations should not hinder any of the rocker’s legal claim.

But the judge did not agree, and said that only Rose’s breach of contract claim would be allowed to proceed to trial.

Activision, in response, added that Rose’s remaining claims do not stand up because its deal was not with Rose individually, rather Guns N Roses’ publishing company GNR Music, and it was not him who signed off on the sync licence. The company told the court: “Rose had no authority to enter into a license for ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ in his individual capacity because he does not own the song or the sound recording”.

Originally expected to begin in January next year, the full trial will now not commence until 1 Feb 2013. As previously reported, Activision ceased production of its ‘Guitar Hero’ titles in February 2011, after sales slumped.