Mara was introduced as the first downloadable character in Modern Warfare shortly after its release. She was a part of the game's first big update way back in 2019.
Haugen claims that Mara is based on a character he wrote called "Cade Janus." She was supposed to the protagonist in Haugen's "November Renaissance" story, which he was planning to make into a film.
Coincidently, the model for Haugen's photos and Mara in Modern Warfare are the same person. Alex Zedra is an Instagram model with a following of 1.2 million. She occasionally streams Call of Duty on Twitch as well.
What does the Lawsuit entail?
"The resulting photographs were intended to be, and were, copies of Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs. Defendants used these infringing photographs and three-dimensional images to develop the animated in-game character named “Mara” for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and used additional photographs of “Mara” to market the game. With this infringing female character as the centerpiece of an advertising campaign for the first time in the Call of Duty series."
Here's the comparison:
Activision is yet to make a public statement regarding the case. Regardless, the complaint demands a trial by jury, asserting that Clayton be allowed to recover monetary compensation.
On a side note, it is rather strange that these charges are being pressed this late. Call of Duty: Warzone has been out for over a year, and the developers have already started rolling out support for the latest installment in the franchise; Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
While this is not the first time Activation has been in hot water, it is left to be seen if the lawsuit holds up in court.
Call of Duty vs Booker T
This is not Activision's first courthouse rodeo. In 2019, former WWE Champion Booker T. Huffman filed a lawsuit against the video game publisher.
Booker T. claimed that Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4's supporting character David "Prophet" Wilkes was too similar to G.I. Bro, the military gimmick that he performed under and still owns the copyright to.
While there have been no further developments in the case, in early 2020, Judge Robert Schroeder ruled in favor of honoring a magistrate judge's previous ruling. He advanced the case further, despite Activision requesting that the case be dismissed.