WWE: Randy Orton's tattoo artist wins case over designs in game

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Randy OrtonImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Randy Orton is one of the biggest stars in the history of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)

The artist behind wrestling star Randy Orton's iconic tattoos has won a case against the publisher of the best-selling WWE 2K video games.

Catherine Alexander claimed Take-Two Interactive used her designs without permission.

Her lawsuit centred around five ink designs that are all featured on the 14-time champion's body.

A jury in the US found she was entitled to compensation and awarded her $3,750 (£3,300) in damages.

The case, first filed in 2018, claimed five tattoos - tribal tattoos, skulls, a bible verse, and a dove and rose - were Catherine Alexander's original designs.

Court documents state that Catherine created them between 2003-2008, and that the art was "easily recognised by [Orton's] fans and members of the public".

She claimed WWE contacted her offering to pay $450 (£395) to use a design in its merchandise, which she turned down.

After this, the court was told, she "did not grant any permission to WWE to copy, duplicate or otherwise use or reproduce any of the plaintiff's designs".

Take-Two argued the tattoos were protected under fair use rules that allowed it to recreate Orton in the video games.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Randy Orton's sleeve tattoos are a big part of his persona

The judge in the case declared that "authenticity" was an important factor in the games, and that "WWE would have rejected Orton's videogame persona if it appeared without his tattoos or appeared with tattoos that were different than Orton's actual tattoos".

This isn't the first time that a video game company has been sued for not asking for permission to replicate a celebrity's tattoos in a video game.

In 2016, Take-Two were unsuccessfully sued by artists for using basketball star LeBron James' tattoos in the NBA 2K games without permission.

At the time, LeBron said: "I always thought that I had the right to license what I look like to other people for various merchandise, television appearances, and other types of creative works, like video games."

Earlier this year, WWE boss Vince McMahon announced he was retiring from the company following a number of misconduct claims.

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