According to The Hollywood Reporter, tattoo artist Catherine Alexander is taking both WWE and Take-Two Interactive Software (publisher of the WWE 2K video game series) to court for copyright infringement.
Alexander claims that both companies had copied and reproduced her work of Randy Orton’s tattoos without her express permission.
While a jury will dertermine whether the inclusion of Randy Orton’s tattoos constitutes copyright infringement, it’s looking unlikely the ruling will go in Alexander’s favour thanks to a similar case brought against Take-Two Interactive Software in March 2019.
In that situation, the video game publisher was sued by a company that claimed to own tattoo designs that were featured in the NBA 2K series. The outcome went in the publishers favour when a New York Judge ruled the minor designs were not substantially similar to what the players brandished. The judge also said that the use of copyright was about minimal things and there was reasonable inference of an implied license.
Judge Staci Yandle who presides over Catherine Alexander’s case against WWE denied her own motion for a summary judgment, stating:
“It is unclear whether Alexander and Orton discuseed permissible form of copying and distributing the tattoo works or whether any implied license invluding sublicensing rights such that Orton could give permission for others to copy Alexander’s tattoo works. Thus, the evidence raises a triable issue of facts as to the existence and scope of an implied license and Defendant’s motion is denied as to this affirmative defense. Alexander contends she created tattoos for the purpose of displaying them on Orton’s body and that Defendants used the tattoos for the same purpose; to display them on Orton’s body in video games. Alexander also disputes Defendants’ characterization of the size of the tattoos and maintains they are prominently displayed and clearly visible in the video games. These are material factual disputes.”
Catherine Alexander’s legal issues with WWE date back to 2009 when, according to The Hollywood Reporter, she heard a rumour about her work being copied onto tattoo sleeves the company were licensing.
Alexander claims that she contacted WWE’s legal team but was laughed at when she mentioned negotiations for the reproduction of her work.
WWE 2K has just released it’s latest title, WWE 2K Battlegrounds.
Inside the Ropes will keep you up to date with the case and rulings as they happen.