Axl Rose, the lead vocalist of the legendary rock band Guns N Roses (GNR), may have his lawsuit against Activision thrown out. The reason is because it took three years from the release of Guitar Hero 3 (GHIII) for him to file his lawsuit. The lawsuit stems from what Axl Rose feels is a breach of contract with Activision for GHIII. The dispute began when Rose and his agent discovered former lead guitarist of GNR, Saul Hudson, better known as “Slash”, was also featured in the game. Slash and Axl Rose have been at odds for years; leading to Slash leaving GNR in 1996.
When making the arrangements for the game, Rose agreed to let Activision use Welcome to the Jungle in GHIII but was under the impression that neither Slash nor Slash’s new band Velvet Revolver would be featured in GHIII. Not only was imagery of Slash present in the game; the cover of the game featured a cartoon version of Slash in his signature top hat, holding a Les Paul guitar. This prompted Rose to file a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court over three years after the release of the game.
The game was released in October of 2007; Rose did not file his lawsuit until November 2010, more than three years later, which Mr. Rose claims is Activision’s fault. Rose alleges that after his management and attorneys found out about Slash being in GHIII, Activision made him a peace offering. Activision allegedly told Rose they would create a Guitar Hero game that would be based solely on GNR material. Allegedly, they also offered to enter into other un-named business proposals that Rose says were worth millions of dollars. Because the process of sorting out all the new possible business ventures with Activision was time consuming, Rose says the filing of the lawsuit was delayed. Rose’s reasons behind the three-year delay may not be ones that Superior Court Judge Charles Palmer is willing to accept.
Rose sued Activision on two grounds: for breach of contract and for fraud. The fraud portion was immediately thrown out because the statute of limitations on fraud in California is three years. On the breach of contract claim there is a conflict between the parties as to what type of contract was actually formed. Rose’s lawyers contend that there was a written agreement, which would have a statute of limitations of 4 years under California law, which promised that Slash and Velvet Revolver would not be used in GHIII. This theory is based on emails between Rose’s representatives and licensing agents and the offices of Activision. Activision and their legal team argue that the agreement was only oral and thereby subject to a 2-year statute of limitations in California. If the agreement is found to be an oral agreement, Rose’s lawsuit will be dismissed because the statute of limitations has expired. .
In a situation like this, involving millions of dollars and two parties that can afford top-notch legal counsel, it is unthinkable that there isn’t some form of written agreement signed by both parties. If there was, in fact, no written contract then Rose’s staff dropped the ball horribly by filing this suit after the time allowed by the California statute of limitations. Activision’s lawyers will definitely use this to their advantage, and show the judge that this lawsuit should not have been filed to begin with because of the statute of limitations expiring. . If there is no written agreement, there is a very good chance Axl Rose will not win his lawsuit against Activision.
UPDATE: A judge ruled two days ago that Activision did not violate any terms with Mr. Rose. The lawsuit has been dismissed.