WWE files suit against THQ, Jakks

World Wrestling Entertainment asks court to nullify THQ's license to produce WWE games; alleges bribery and racketeering scheme.

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World Wrestling Entertainment today announced that the company has filed suit against video game publisher and WWE license holder THQ, toy manufacturer Jakks Pacific, and related defendants. The WWE alleges that the video game license held by THQ and Jakks, which is currently in effect through December 2009, was obtained via a far-reaching "commercial bribery scheme." The WWE has asked the New York District Court to declare the license void and unenforceable.

In total, the papers filed today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York comprise 14 different counts of racketeering, bribery, money-laundering, and other such charges. Defendants named in the suit are Jakks Pacific, Inc.; THQ, Inc.; former WWE licensing agent Stanley Shenker & Associates, Inc. (SSAI); Bell Licensing, LLC; highest-ranking Jakks executives Jack Friedman, Stephen Berman, and Joel Bennett; Stanley Shenker; and former WWE senior vice president of licensing and merchandising James Bell.

“WWE’s intellectual property is a valuable asset of the Company, and we believe the actions taken today are necessary to preserve the integrity of our licensing process and essential to ensure that WWE receives appropriate and fair compensation for the grant of a license to use our intellectual property,” WWE chief executive officer Linda McMahon said in a statement released today.

THQ responded to GameSpot's inquiries this afternoon with a "no comment."

The bare-bones version of the scheme alleged in the suit is as follows: In 1998, Bell conspired with SSAI to accept and split over $100,000 worth of bribes from Jakks, then use Bell's position as director of licensing and SSAI's position as WWE's licensing agent to convince the WWE to give its lucrative video game license to Jakks when the terms of its earlier agreement with Acclaim expired.

At this time, the WWE says, other game publishers like THQ and Activision submitted proposals for the license. Both deals were "clearly superior" to the Jakks proposal, but were turned down. The WWE alleges that Bell and SSAI hid the proposals from WWE management, and then advised Jakks to create a superior offer. According to the allegations in the suit, Jakks, not having any video game division, then proposed a joint venture with THQ to obtain the license. THQ agreed to the proposal, and has produced WWE video games ever since.

The WWE seeks the nullification of the video game license as well as all damages arising from the alleged bribery scheme. The entire court filing can be found on WWE's corporate Web site. GameSpot will update this story as it develops.

Discussion

10 comments
BalramRules
BalramRules

@judge_judy Quite clearly, they want a new new game developer for the WWE Brand. Although THQ seems to be making A LOT of their profits from their brand, I that most of this seems to be true, as why would a game developer be so keen to publicise the fact that they have the WWE Brand's Control under their name for 8 FREAKIN YEARS! I'd like to see EA or Activision to begin to develop WWE Games, not THQ ANYMORE! IM SICK OF EM XO

judge__judy
judge__judy

Why are they sueing thier game creator.

Irve
Irve

Sounds like the WWF want some of that EA fat cash .. if NFL can get $1 billion then surely the WWF can get a big slice ............ Bunch of greedy ....peeps ...... i really don't care who makes the WWF games .... but at the very least someone could make a TNA game !! come on Spike licence your King of Colusium engine !!! ......... Most Rasslin' games are average at best

X_Box_Killer
X_Box_Killer

Indeed... can you just imagine if EA Games gets the license? The games will suck even more than those horrible Acclaim games that polluted the NES thru to the PS1. @_@ For those hoping that they go back to the AKI engine - remember now, THQ published those as well.

playa42018
playa42018

THQ/Yukes games are terrible. Bring on Aki Corp or Fire Pro Wrestling.

faxmachne
faxmachne

wow how long has this been going on for... suprised it isnt over yet

shafner
shafner

OOOH MAN! YES! hopefully Asmik Ace & AKI will take over again and i wont have to play Wrestlemania 2000/No Mercy anymore! Imagine, No Mercy, without slowdown!!!!!! AAAAAAHHH!!!

HBK_nWo33
HBK_nWo33

THQ and Yukes better keep the license, or WWE games will suck.

DeltaSpirit
DeltaSpirit

damn just when the series was getting good again, hopefully nothing will be canceled