Pausing the Game: Take-Two Seeks to Pause WWE Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

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Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive has told an Illinois federal court that it wants to pause a tattoo artist’s copyright infringement lawsuit, as a ruling on a pending summary judgment motion could decide the case.

As we reported last year, tattoo artist Catherine Alexander filed a lawsuit against Take-Two and World Wrestling Entertainment, alleging that they infringed on her copyright. Between 2003 and 2008, Alexander created several unique tattoos for WWE superstar Randy Orton. While WWE allegedly offered Alexander $450,000 for the rights to use and reproduce the tattoos, she declined. Alexander sought to register copyrights on those tattoos on March 15, 2018. In her complaint, Alexander claimed that Take-Two’s WWE 2K video games illegally copied her tattoos without her permission, as the games feature a Randy Orton avatar with the tattoos.

Take-Two moved to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds, but the court never ruled on their motion. Alexander then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Take-Two admitted that it reproduced the tattoos without her permission. Take-Two then filed its own summary judgment motion, arguing that its use of the tattoos was transformative. They specifically noted how the expressive value of the tattoos was significantly diminished, being included as a small part of a fast-paced, interactive game series.

Now, Take-Two has filed another motion, stating that its summary judgment motion is likely to decide all of Alexander’s claims. Because of this, Take-Two wants to pause all pretrial proceedings, including discovery and other procedural undertakings, until the court rules on its motion. Take-Two argued that this pause would serve to preserve resources, narrow and clarify the issues, or even prevent the need for trial entirely.

Alexander objected to Take-Two’s request to pause the case. She argued that granting the pause could result in the case taking longer to resolve. While a trial is currently set for June 2020, Alexander argued that, if Take-Two’s summary judgment motion was denied, the trial could be delayed to 2021. We will continue to monitor the situation.