Judge dismisses THQ-WWE racketeering suit

Litigation from 2004 tossed out by judge, but legal battles not over yet for wrestling organization and its gaming licensee.

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One more chapter of the ongoing legal dispute between World Wrestling Entertainment and its game and toy licensees, THQ and Jakks Pacific, is in the books. Earlier this month, a United States District Court judge dismissed a WWE lawsuit brought against the game makers and multiple other parties.

Originally filed in 2004, the suit claimed that Jakks Pacific had bribed WWE agents in charge of external licensing to circumvent a competitive bidding process and secure rights at below-market values. The wrestling group alleged that Jakks paid the agents to discourage other companies from even bidding for a license to make toys or games.

The WWE suit accused the associated parties of numerous wrongdoings, including violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). As a result, the WWE had been asking for the court to nullify its licensing agreements with THQ, Jakks, and their joint venture, as well as to pay for damages incurred as a result of fraud.

On December 3, the judge in the case granted the defendants' various motions to dismiss the suit. While no explanation was given for the dismissal, the judge did indicate that a full opinion on the matter "will be issued in short order." In THQ's motion, the publisher asked the judge to dismiss the RICO claim with prejudice and to dismiss the remainder of the claims because they weren't federal issues.

While THQ came out on top in this bit of WWE-related litigation, the wrestling organization's attorneys aren't tapping out just yet. Last October the company filed another suit seeking to void its licensing agreement with THQ, this one centering around the publisher's sublicensing of Asian distribution rights to SmackDown franchise developer Yuke's.

As of press time, a THQ representative had not returned a request for comment.

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