Take Two is heading to court as it faces a lawsuit over the use of WWE Superstar Randy Orton’s tattoos in their licensed WWE 2K games.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the artist, Catherine Alexander has challenged these organizations over their use of her tattoo designs, present on the player model of Randy Orton, which marks the first case of a copyright dispute over tattoo art reproduction in a game that has gone to trial.
On Saturday, an Illinois federal judge handed over a partial summary determining that WWE and Take Two had copied her work by reproducing the tattoos on their character model of Orton, and now a jury must decide if the case constitutes copyright infringement against Alexander.
U.S. District Court judge Staci Yandle said it was “unclear whether Alexander and Orton discussed permissible forms of copying and distributing the tattoo works or whether any implied license included sublicensing rights such that Orton could give permission for others to copy Alexander’s tattoo works. Thus, the evidence raises a triable issue of fact as to the existence and scope of an implied license and Defendants’ motion is denied as to this affirmative defense.”
It’s not the first time Take Two have found themselves in a legal battle in regards to body ink, as back in 2016 a similar lawsuit was filed against the company for the reproduction of tattoos in their NBA series. However, that case was settled when the publisher argued that their likeness was fair use, and thus the case never got the trial.