Tattoo Artist Sues WWE and Take-Two Interactive for Copyright Infringement

Catherine Alexander, a tattoo artist for professional WWE wrestler Randy Orton, sued World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. claiming that several of the video games in the WWE 2K series illegally copied Alexander’s copyrighted tattoos. Between 2003 and 2008, Alexander created several tattoos for Orton, including on his upper back, forearms, upper arms, and sleeve tattoos. On March 15, 2018, Alexander submitted applications to register copyrights on each of the tattoos. Back in 2009, WWE offered Alexander $450.00 for the rights to…
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Details of the Keller Settlement Submitted for Approval

A proposed settlement filed on June 30 could allow up to $20,000 for several football and men’s basketball players whose names, images, and likenesses were used in NCAA-themed video games.  The filing contains the details of a $20 million deal announced in early June between the NCAA and the plaintiffs led by Sam Keller, a former Arizona State and Nebraska football player.  The proposed terms are closely related to the previously announced $40 million settlement by EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) that would…
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Former ‘Mob Wives’ Star Sues Grand Theft Auto V Producers

Karen Gravano, former actress on the TV show Mob Wives, and daughter of real life mobster Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, sued the Rockstar Games Co. over the use of a character in the mob-themed “Grand Theft Auto V” video game – a character Gravano asserts was modeled after her without her permission. The complaint asserts that the make-believe “Antonia Bottino” incorporated Gravano’s image and life story into the game without consulting Gravano or providing her any compensation.  The filing noted, “[n]otwithstanding the fact that…
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Judge Nixes Jury Verdict in EA Sports ‘Madden’ Infringement Case

On January 22, 2014, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer overturned a multi-million dollar jury award against EA sports in a copyright infringement case.  The underlying action was originally brought against the video game giant by Robin Antonick, a programmer who was initially given credit and royalties for creating the first edition of ‘Madden Football’ in 1988.  Antonick alleged that subsequent versions of the game were created using his own source code, violating copyright infringement laws and entitling him to compensation.  A federal jury agreed with…
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Supreme Court Denies NCAA’s Petition to Get “In The Game”

On January 13, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the NCAA’s request to intervene as a party in Keller v. Electronic Arts Inc.  The Keller case stems from 2009 and involves “rights of publicity” and antitrust claims. Former college football players alleged that the EA violated their right of publicity and conspired with the NCAA by using their image and likeness in its videogames.  In EA’s appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the NCAA was not immune to the players’ claims because the depictions in…
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California Jury Allows Madden Developer to Play On in Case Against EA

It took less than a week to return a verdict in favor of former Electronics Arts Inc. (EA) videogame developer Robin Antonick. On Friday, June 21, 2013, a California jury ruled that Antonick was not too late to bring a breach of contract claim against EA for royalties that he alleges are owed to him from a 1986 agreement with the video gaming company. Antonick is the original designer and developer of the Madden NFL Football games. A 1986 agreement required EA to pay him…
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Trial to Determine if Madden Developer Can Beat the Clock with Big Play for Damages

On Monday June 17, 2013, opening statements were made to determine if Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) lied to the original programmer of the Madden NFL videogame. Robin Antonick, the game’s original programmer, claims the company continued to use the game’s code that he developed after contractually agreeing not to do so.  Monday, a California federal judge decided the case would go to trial. Antonick worked for EA from 1984 to 1991.  During his tenure, he developed the first rendition of the game for Apple II,…
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If It’s In the Game …

This past week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in the case Ryan Hart v. Electronic Arts, Inc., Index No. 11-3750, paved the way for a showdown that could fundamentally change the way the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) goes about its business. In the case, Hart alleged that Electronic Arts (EA) had violated his right of publicity under New Jersey law by including his “likeness” in its video games NCAA Football 2004, 2005, and 2006. EA had previously won a motion…
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O’Bannon Lawsuit Could Change the Face of NCAA Athletics

Former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon began his antitrust legal dispute against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) back in 2009, when he sued the NCAA for wrongfully profiting off the likenesses of former student athletes in EA Sports video games.  The suit accuses the NCAA of forcing students to waive the right to make money off of their likenesses, a behavior which amounts to an illegal restraint of trade. In a new twist, in her January ruling, federal Judge Claudia Wilken permitted O’Bannon to…
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Nintendo Clobbered by Tomita with $30 Million Verdict in Patent Litigation

On March 13, 2013, a jury awarded a $30.2 million dollar verdict to Tomita Technologies International Inc. in its patent infringement with the Nintendo Co. Ltd.  Tomita’s suit accused Nintendo of infringing on its “Stereoscopic imaging picking up and display system based upon optical axes cross-point information” patent (which displays 3-D images viewable without special glasses) by using the technology in Nintendo’s 3DS hand-held video game system.  . Seijiro Tomita (the founder of Tomita Technologies) spent 30 years working at Sony as an engineer/inventor, and…
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