After Four Years In Court, WWE Loses Randy Orton Tattoo Lawsuit

Randy Orton

The jury has ruled in favor of Randy Orton’s tattoo artist Catherine Alexander on Friday in her lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment, 2K Games, Inc., 2K Sports, Inc., Take-Two Interactive Software, Visual Concepts Entertainment, Yuke’s LA Inc. and Yuke’s Co., Ltd. The case took place in the United States District Court | Southern District of Illinois.

When sent to deliberation, it only took the jury three hours and 26 minutes to make their decision. It is not currently known how much Alexander will be paid from each entity, nor if they will appeal the jury’s decision.

Filed in 2018, the lawsuit claims that all of the tattoo work done by Randy Orton are the original designs of Alexander and that she owns the rights to them. Alexander also alleges that all of the companies named in the lawsuit are guilty of copyright infringement and she never gave any of the defendants permission to use the designs in video games licensed by WWE.

The lawsuit states that Alexander did Randy Orton’s tattoos between 2003-2008, and that the art is “easily recognized by his fans and members of the public.” Alexander also claims that she, before the lawsuit, “submitted applications to register copyrights on each of the aforementioned works on March 15, 2018.”

Alexander also alleges that the company was selling merchandise with her work featured on it in 2009 and she contacted WWE about the infringement. In response, the company offered her $450 for the rights to the art. Claiming that she declined WWE’s offer, Alexander said in the lawsuit that she “told WWE that Plaintiff did not grant any permission to WWE to copy, duplicate or otherwise use or reproduce any of Plaintiff’s designs.”

Back on September 26, 2020, Judge Staci M. Yandle ruled that WWE and Take-Two committed copyright infringement on five Randy Orton tattoos where the rights to the designs do, in fact, belong to Alexander, and are verified through official trademarks.

Alexander also requested a summary judgment in the case, which would have been a huge victory for Alexander to set up definite damages, however, she was denied by Judge Yandle because of Randy Orton’s tribal tattoos, which Yandle said a judgment could not be allowed. Therefore, a jury was left with the process.

Then, Judge Yandle said that in her opinion, there was no doubt that WWE committed infringement on Alexander’s designs, however, the company had multiple arguments that could be brought to the jury. As we know now, the jury didn’t go for any of the defenses that WWE brought to the table, completely favoring Alexander in the case.

There’s been a lot of attention on this case because of it setting a precedent either way, rather in favor of tattoo artists or corporations. Now that the case is over and the artist won, it sets a precedent for tattoo artists to completely profit in any kind of merchandise, video games and third-party licensing, as we know the court will rule in favor of trademarked designers.