WWE And 2K Games Being Sued Over Randy Orton's Tattoos

Randy Orton's sleeve designs are at the heart of a legal challenge that is now going to court.

22 Comments

WWE and 2K are being taken to court over the depiction of one wrestler's sleeve tattoos. The Hollywood Reporter notes that 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.

A federal judge in Illinois has given a partial summary judgment that finds that the WWE 2K game series has copied Alexander's work, and it will now come down to a jury to decide whether this constitutes copyright infringement. The case centers around six tattoos on Orton's arms, all of which have been recreated in-game, which Alexander never gave permission to reproduce.

This is not the first time 2K has been to court over tattoos, but when a similar challenge happened relating to NBA 2K, the courts found in favor of 2K. The case was never taken to trial. The precedent of a case that does go to trial could be more important.

You can read the memorandum and order for the WWE 2K case here. "The defense has been successfully invoked to allow copying of a small and usually insignificant portion of the copyrighted works, not the wholesale copying of works in their entirety as occurred here," Judge Staci M. Yandle writes.

The outcome for this case could have wide-reaching implications for how personal tattoos are handled in games going forward.

There was no traditional WWE game released in 2020, with 2K instead releasing WWE 2K Battlegrounds, an arcade-like title. While his avatar in that game sports sleeve tattoos, they are not an exact match for Alexander's work.

A new WWE 2K game is planned for 2021. The franchise took a year off from traditional releases after the previous game, WWE 2K20, received scathing reviews.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: WWE 2K Battlegrounds Gameplay: Fatal-4-Way Match

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 22 comments about this story
22 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for john_price_1
john_price_1

129

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 10

User Lists: 0

WTF this is shameful . The tattoo is his . What is it her business to claiming his tattoo he payed and helped design . All of this for attention even if that is negative for a quick buck .

Upvote • 
Avatar image for zmanbarzel
ZmanBarzel

2480

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

I'm legitimately surprised publishers with major sports franchises (e.g. 2K with NBA2K, and EA with Madden) don't have a library of generic copyright-free tattoo textures, similar to "sounds like" music, that they can just sub in to rid themselves of this headache.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for nintendians
nintendians

3006

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 139

User Lists: 0

sounds like someone's desperate for money.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for soulmuncher666
soulmuncher666

165

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 10

What an idiot.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for tsunami2311
tsunami2311

1361

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Edited By tsunami2311  Online

What strange is Ortin's tattoos have been count wresting game at this point cause the tattoos on his arm have been for quite some time. but all of sudden this is issue? sound fishy

Upvote • 
Avatar image for joey2010
joey2010

110

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 13

User Lists: 0

Seriously?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Blk_Mage_Ctype
Blk_Mage_Ctype

885

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Some folks really are shameless. The tattoos are part of Randy Ortin's likeness, which she holds no claims to whatsoever, and I'm going to assume that the designs of said tattoos were made to Randy Ortin's specifications, thus rendering said designs his intellectual property rather than hers. She has no case whatsoever, so all this will result in is damage to her own personal reputation as well as lost money over legal expenses.

4 • 
Avatar image for lionheartssj1
lionheartssj1

4782

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 12

User Lists: 0

Strange. In a way, is the tattoo artist implying they have some say over what Orton can/can't do with his body due to being the person who applied the tattoo?

2 • 
Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

2867

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 15

User Lists: 0

@lionheartssj1: yeah. next orton appears in price is right and then this artist will say no no i dont want my tattoos shown in that shit show

i thought she wants just fame which is ok considering she is part of ortons appeal. but going to court means shes actually seriously thinking she owns the thing on ortons body

Upvote • 
Avatar image for soulcrusher777
Soulcrusher777

293

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Rediculous! That tat artist needs to shut the F up!

5 • 
Avatar image for gotrekfabian
gotrekfabian

6022

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 66

User Lists: 0

For those who haven't yet worked it out: We live in a world of greed.

6 • 
Avatar image for sippio
sippio

1235

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

This is stupid & overly cring/shameless..

She doesn't own the art.

Some people are really weird with how they think & view the world.

3 • 
Avatar image for Archangel2222
Archangel2222

431

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

lmao they are just going to lose in court, the artists I mean. 2ksports already went to court for nba2k games and the video games won. Same ruling should apply otherwise itll open up a can of worms for the artists who lost for the nba law suite

4 • 
Avatar image for zmanbarzel
ZmanBarzel

2480

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@Archangel2222: But part of the judgment in that NBA2K suit was based on the tattoos being, well, let U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain say it:

"The undisputed factual record shows that average game play is unlikely to include the players with the Tattoos and that, even when such players are included, the display of the Tattoos is small and indistinct, appearing as rapidly moving visual features of rapidly moving figures in groups of player figures."

If the Randy Orton character model is big enough, and the action slow enough, to where the tattoos are larger and can be made out, a door for the lawsuit is opened.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Ultima_Dragoon
Ultima_Dragoon

181

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

If an artist puts their art on another person's body, I don't believe they should own that art anymore. They were already paid for their work. Randy Orton owns the tattoos now. Permission to recreate the tattoos in-game lies with Randy Orton.

10 • 
Avatar image for zmanbarzel
ZmanBarzel

2480

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@Ultima_Dragoon: Unless it's expressly written into the transaction, the artist continues to own the copyright over their art.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for j3diknightdave
j3DiKNiGHtDAVE

337

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@Ultima_Dragoon said:

If an artist puts their art on another person's body, I don't believe they should own that art anymore. They were already paid for their work. Randy Orton owns the tattoos now. Permission to recreate the tattoos in-game lies with Randy Orton.

Your the only one in here that hit the nail, right on the head.

His tattoos aren't trademark images... Now if the images were trademark by the artist, then 2K would be up shit creek.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for tuna_walker
Tuna_walker

138

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@Ultima_Dragoon: Ever see The Hangover: Part II? Ed Helm's character got a tattoo on his face that was very similar to the one Mike Tyson has on his face. The artist who tattooed Tyson sued Warner Bros. for copyright infringement. A settlement was reached and the dispute was resolved.

Sounds to me like Warner Bros. ended up paying the tattoo artist. Not sure how much he got, but he got enough to stop complaining.

Catherine Alexander may just end up getting a decent amount of money for this.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for TheBigBadGRIM
TheBigBadGRIM

1120

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

@Ultima_Dragoon: Seriously, that should be the case and there should be no exceptions. Imagine never being able to put CM Punk into a video game when he was around because of his Pepsi tattoo? Ridiculous.

3 • 
Avatar image for danielsonsxe
DanielsonsXe

36

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@TheBigBadGRIM: You mean the tattoo that they didn't put into any of the games he starred in? They replaced it with a similar looking design because they knew Pepsico owned the right to that likeness.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for TheBigBadGRIM
TheBigBadGRIM

1120

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

@danielsonsxe: Yes, that. It's ridiculous. It's part of his body now. They should've taken the free advertisement and no one should have to think about whether Pepsi would sue for that.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for lunchbox2042
lunchbox2042

549

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@TheBigBadGRIM: That's different though. The Pepsi logo is trademarked by Pepsico. Randy Orton's tattoos aren't trademarked by the artist.

Upvote •