Update On Ongoing AEW Lawsuit

AEW logo and roster graphic

Back in January, it was reported that AEW was the subject of a legal complaint regarding copyright violation.

According to a report from Wrestlenomics, Louisiana-based company Composite Effects, LLC launched a complaint against both All Elite Wrestling and Austin Matelson, who performs in the company as Luchasaurus. The complaint stems from the copyright of Luchasaurus’ mask design, with the December filing stating that AEW and Matelson are using the mask on merchandise without the designer’s permission.

The complaint states that Composite Effects (CFX) owns the licensing and design rights to the mask, referred to as “Viper Silicone Mask”, and that Matelson was only entitled to use the mask as a wrestler but not to create merchandise from it. The lawsuit includes various examples of the mask depicted in AEW’s merchandise advertisements, including T-shirts and action figures.

CFX claims that Matelson initially worked with them in December 2016 to have a modified version of the design made and was then modified again in March 2019 before AEW’s first live events with the addition of horns. However, CFX states that it attempted to come to a licensing agreement with Matelson when they learned that he had signed with the company in 2019, but no agreement was reached.

In February 2021, CFX and AEW personnel began communications about a new custom mask, which All Elite Wrestling bought the rights to. However, in an email exchange between Matelson and Tony Khan, CEO of AEW, Khan expressed that the current mask was “too iconic” to replace. CFX then sent messages to AEW and Matelson asking them to stop using the design or come to a licensing agreement, but their requests were allegedly ignored.

The complaint also includes a statement from another designer, George Frangadakis, who claims he was approached by Matelson and an associate known as “Jett” in January 2022 to create a mask similar to the CFX design. Frangadakis offered to create a new mask that didn’t resemble the CFX design, but he was not contacted again.

CFX is seeking profits the wrestling company has made related to the alleged infringement, other damages sustained as a result, and attorneys’ fees.

Per Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics, courts granted All Elite Wrestling an extension to respond to the complaint by February 22, and the deadline was later changed to March 21st.

AEW Have Requested To Dismiss The Copyright Lawsuit Against Them

Now, updated court documents (as reported by Brandon Thurston) show that AEW has filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed, stating:

Defendant All Elite Wrestling, LLC (“AEW”) respectfully moves the Court to dismiss Counts II (unfair competition under the Lanham Act), III (unfair competition under the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act), IV (conversion under Louisiana law), V (unjust enrichment under Louisiana law), and VI (liability for causing damages under LA. Civ. Code 2315) for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).1

As set forth in greater detail in the Memorandum in Support that is filed contemporaneously herewith, with regard to each of these counts, Plaintiff Composite Effects, LLC has either failed to assert a viable claim and/or attempted to plead a claim that is clearly preempted by the Copyright Act. Accordingly, these Counts of the Complaint should be dismissed.

A ten-page memorandum supporting All Elite Wrestling’s claim can be found here.

Thurston also reports that Composite Effects, LLC filed a proposed amended complaint. Court documents of this filing can be found here.