An ongoing lawsuit involving Randy Orton and his tattoo artist could make for a landmark case if the result goes the way of the latter.
Scanning professional athletes into video games, be it NBA, NFL, or indeed WWE, should come without issues, at the very least issues of a legal nature. This hasn’t been the case for WWE’s video game team, though, as an ongoing lawsuit relating to Randy Orton has lingered over their heads since 2018.
Filed in April 2018 by Orton’s tattoo artist Catherine Alexander, the lawsuit – officially filed against WWE, Take-Two Interactive Software, 2K Games, Inc., 2K Sports, Inc., Visual Concepts Entertainment, Yuke’s Co., Ltd. and Yuke’s LA – states that as she’s the sole owner of the tattoo designs, there was never permission granted for them to be included in WWE games.
As pointed out by PWInsider’s Mike Johnson, there are a number of factors to take into account as it pertains to WWE’s use of the designs in their 2K series:
“Whether Orton was automatically granted an implied license to have his tattoos recreated via WWE’s licensed products, if they would be considered copyright infringement if Orton did not have that license, whether the tattoos would fall under “fair use” (brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder), whether the tattoos are de minmis (too trivial or minor to merit consideration legally) and whether there would be damages due to Alexander.”
Randy Orton took to the stand on 28 September to testify in front of the jury. He reportedly did so for just over three hours.
If the court rules in favour of Catherine Alexander, it could have a major impact on the future of Randy Orton’s in-game design, as well as that of other inked WWE Superstars whose artists may also realise their rights.