WWE 2K publisher Take-Two Interactive – as well as the WWE itself – have been ordered to pay damages to a tattoo artist whose designs appeared in multiple wrestling games.
A jury has decided the companies must pay $3750 to Catherine Alexander, who designed tattoos for pro wrestler Randy Orton, after their likenesses appeared on Orton’s character in WWE 2K16, 17 and 18.
Alexander had pushed for a higher amount, including a share of profits from the games, Reuters reported. Still, the decision appears to mark a landmark judgement that may affect future usage rights in other games in future.
“We didn’t win a bunch of money, but that’s never what the case was about,” a lawyer for the tattoo artist said.
Indeed, the verdict differs from that of a similar lawsuit brought against Take-Two over tattoos on basketball players in the company’s NBA 2K series. Take-Two won that case back in 2020, after years of arguments that ultimately saw the designs deemed as fair to use.
The legal status of tattoos in video games has been a thorny issue for some time. Back in 2012, a tattoo artist sued THQ over his designs appearing on a fighter in UFC Undisputed 3.
By 2014, EA’s Madden NFL team was encouraging players to get copyright waivers from tattoo artists so their ink could appear in video games without legal trouble.
Eurogamer contacted Take-Two for comment, but has not heard back.