Monday 4 February 2013, 12:30 | By Andy Malt
Axl Rose’s lawsuit against Guitar Hero makers not looking good
Axl Rose’s legal battle with Activision could collapse because of the good old statute of limitations.
As previously reported, Rose sued the gaming firm over allegations it breached an agreement with the Guns N Roses star by featuring his former bandmate and long-time beef buddy Slash in ‘Guitar Hero III’, which also featured the GnR track ‘Welcome To The Jungle’. Rose had said he would only licence the then buoyant pretend-to-play game franchise a track on the condition that edition would be Slash free.
Rose sued Activision – ironically ultimately owned by the same company as his record label Geffen – in 2010 for $20 million, claiming breach of contract and fraud. But last August a judge ruled that because the offending game was released in October 2007 the fraud claim was invalid, because under the jurisdiction of relevance a short statute of limitations applied in that domain.
Rose claimed that the delay in his litigation was due to alleged assurances by Activision that it would make good the ‘Guitar Hero III’ debacle by releasing a special GnR edition of the game, featuring the current line-up of the band only, and based around the ‘Chinese Democracy’ album, released a year after ‘GHIII’.
To that end, Rose’s lawyers argued that the dispute between their client and Activision began not in October 2007, but when the GnR chief realised Activision was set on screwing him over. But the judge considering the case last summer did not concur. However, the breach of contract element, which could be made up to four years after the alleged breach, was allowed to proceed.
Except, the four year limitation only applies to written contracts. And last week lawyers for Activision returned to court to claim that any commitment given to Rose’s people regards ‘GHIII’ being Slash free were given verbally, therefore the rocker is relying on an oral contract, where the limitation period would be two years. Thus the statute of limitations could gazump that claim too.
Team Rose are seemingly relying on an email exchange between a rep of GnR and Activision as proof a contract existed. But, according to Billboard, the judge hearing the case last week seemed to be leaning towards Activision’s arguments – though it’s not clear if that’s because he is treating the email conversation as if it was verbal, or because the emails simply allude to something actually agreed on the phone.
Either way, things seem to be moving very much in Activision’s favour on this one. A final ruling is expected later this month.