Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

A screen shot of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, developed by Infinity Ward. (Activision Blizzard / May 24, 2012)

Those awaiting the start of legal fireworks betweenActivision Blizzard Inc.and the former developers of the multibillion-dollar Call of Duty game franchise will have to hold their collective breath a little longer.

California Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle on Thursday ordered that the trial begin June 1, three days after the original start date. Berle cited logistical difficulties assembling a sufficient jury pool.

Berle also stipulated that the trial must end by July 2, giving 22 business days to try the case. Attorneys for each party had requested 30 business days, given the complexities of the case.

Thousands of pieces of evidence have been submitted in the two years since Activision and the developers filed their lawsuits -- each contending that the other had breached an employment contract that laid out the developers' duties and what royalties Activision had pay developers in return.

Each is claiming more than $1 billion in damages and other compensation.

The amount at stake depends on the exact language in a three-page agreement Activision signed in 2008 with Jason West and Vincent Zampella, the former heads of Infinity Ward, the studio that first developed the Call of Duty franchise.

Also involved are 40 other developers who left Infinity Ward shortly after Activision fired West and Zampella in March 2010. These developers, led by Todd Alderman, claim that Activision owes them hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties under the company's contract with West and Zampella.

Berle began to hear arguments Thursday on how the contract should be read. This week or early next week, he is expected to determine which parts of the contract are irrefutable and which will be open to interpretation to a jury, as well as stipulate how the damages ought to be calculated.

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