Tattoo artist sues the WWE over video game tattoos
By Bob Garcia
Randy Orton’s in-game artwork in the 2K series is IP, asserts tattoo artist
What World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) legal department took as a joke at the beginning due to some creative copy is now forcing the organization to a federal court due to a lawsuit. Catherine Alexander, a tattoo artist who describes herself as WWE superstar Randy Orton’s tattoo artist, called to negotiate the reproduction of her work after seeing it in a WWE video game. The response she received was less than serious, leading her to file her lawsuit.
This was no joke to laugh about and the WWE was notified by an Illinois federal court judge who handed the organization her a partial summary judgment. This document stated that the WWE and Take-Two Interactive Software, the publishers of the WWE 2K series of video games, did, in fact, copy her work. After the judges’ statement, the jury now needs to determine if the case goes all the way to copyright infringement.
The judge rejected the defendants’ own motion for summary judgement because it determined that there are certain questions that can be taken to trial. Those questions include things like whether Alexander gave Orton license to disseminate and display the six tattoos she inked for him; those tattoos are the tribal tattoo on Orton’s forearm, a Bible verse on his arm, a dove, a rose and a skull.
This case will most likely surprise many people who didn’t expect the judge to agree to these claims. Earlier this year, there was a similar case against Take-Two and a company claiming to be the owner of the tattoo design featured on NBA stars LeBron James, Kenyon Martin and Eric Bledsoe. A New York court judge determined, however, that small displays in the video game were fair use. Now, US District Court Judge Staci Yandle is preparing for the first copyright trial ever to focus on the unauthorized reproduction of tattoos.