Activision Sues Viacom Over Star Trek License

Game developer Activision Inc. filed a breach of contract suit against Viacom Inc. over the handling of its Star Trek franchise. Activision alleges that the value of its license to produce Star Trek-themed games has been diminished by the media conglomerate’s failure to continue exploiting the property that goes “where no man has gone before.”

In court filings, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based developer argues, “Activision cannot successfully develop and sell Star Trek video games without the product exploitation and support promised by Viacom. A continuing pipeline of movie and television production, and related marketing, is absolutely crucial to the success of video games based on a property such as Star Trek.”

Activision contends that since it signed an exclusive 10-year licensing agreement in 1998, Viacom has only released one Star Trek film and has recently informed the game developer that it has no current plans for further Star Trek features. Activision also blames the conglom for the failure of two Star Trek television series and the ill health of the remaining series, Enterprise.

Activision has terminated the agreement and filed a complaint seeking to recover the damages it has suffered and will suffer, and seeks the return of the warrants now in Viacom’s possession.

The Dow Jones Business News reports that the initial Activision license included $20 million in advance royalties and warrants, with additional payments to be based on game sales.

The company expects that the court filing and the termination of the agreement with Viacom will have no material impact on its previously provided first quarter and fiscal year earnings outlook.