Earlier this month, Activision Blizzard fired off a lawsuit at prolific cheaters, aimed at dealing with the massive problem of Call of Duty cheating. Activision filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against cheat maker EngineOwning UG and CMN Holdings S.A. The filing also resulted in several cheat makers getting cold feet, and shutting down their operations.
The suit itself named nearly 50 unnamed defendants, including various operators of the site and service. It’s those unnamed defendants that seem to have fired back. Despite the ongoing suit, Activision Blizzard still has to identify them to bring them to court. It would seem these defendants are confident in the anonymity. Things got a bit more complex this week, though, as trolls fired off their own response.
The lawsuit itself wasn’t the first time that Activision Blizzard and EngineOwning had interactions. The Call of Duty publisher had previously investigated the cheat maker as far back as 2017. During that time, the company had managed to identify a few people connected with the site. Over the course of 2018, the company attempted to ask that the cheat maker back off of the Call of Duty franchise. EngineOwning’s response was typical of pirates and cheaters, ignoring the implicit threat. The lawsuit this month was the obvious result.
Cheaters and possibly people directly associated with EngineOwning decided to make their own response on Steam. The most noticeable element was a new Steam group, titled MSK Crime. The screenshot below shows a Steam community that associates Meyer’s law firm with the word ‘crime’. The name itself is the trolling element. The group uses the logo of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, the law firm behind the recent lawsuit. The association with crime in the name is basically just empty posturing, but it seems to have angered some folks at the firm.
“Defendants (or other anonymous individuals employed by EngineOwning) also began actively mocking Activision, such as by heavily promoting its Call of Duty cheats and ‘trolling’ me and my firm with fake online groups and user profiles,” Activision lawyer Marc Meyer writes in a declaration to the court.
Could Activision find EngineOwning?
There are any number of ways that EngineOwning staff, assuming this troll is their doing, could be identified. Activision has already begun the process of trying to subpoena the users involved. The process takes time, but it would likely see some users involved with EngineOwning being identified.
PayPal, Stripe, Amazon and Coinbase are all said to have done business with EngineOwning, and that could backfire for those 50 unnamed defendants. The transaction data held by the companies will likely be subpoenaed as part of the discovery process in court. EngineOwning also had accounts on various social media platforms and sites, including Reddit and Instagram. Whoever used these accounts could get found out.
Whoever created the ‘MSKCrime’ community on Steam could also be identified via a subpoena. Valve would likely be very willing to comply with these orders. There’s very little reason for them to protect the names of the users involved behind this prank, unless they’re willing to go into a legal battle over it. Valve has previously tried to protect user data from spurious lawsuits, but this is a bit more serious.