Take-Two and World Wrestling Entertainment are headed to trial after a judge ruled WWE 2K games copied the work of an artist responsible for some of pro wrestler Randy Orton’s tattoos.
Orton’s arms are fully inked from shoulder to hand, an intrinsic part of the four-time World Heavyweight Championship belt holder’s stage appearance. According to The Hollywood Reporter, those designs include tribal tattoos, skulls, a bible verse, and a dove and rose, all of which are the work of artist Catherine Alexander. She’s now suing Take-Two and WWE for reproducing her work in video games without her permission.
“[A]n issue of material fact exists as to whether Alexander suffered actual damages based on the value of the infringing use,” Illinois federal judge Staci Yandle wrote in a court order over the weekend. What that means is that the lawsuit will now go to trial for a jury to decide if the appearance of the tattoos in WWE 2K16, 17, and 18 amounts to copyright infringement and if so how much money the video game publisher will owe Alexander as a result.
While Orton licensed his likeness to WWE which in turn licensed it to Take-Two, what’s at issue is whether Alexander retains some rights to the tattoos once they start being