Take-Two wins lawsuit over LeBron James’ tattoos

take-two wins lawsuit over lebron james’ tattoos

Take-Two wins lawsuit over LeBron James’ tattoos

A jury voted unanimously on Friday in favor of Take-Two Interactive Software and rejected tattoo artist Jimmy Hayden’s claims that the video game maker violated copyrights when recreating Los Angeles Lakers supersatar LeBron James in its NBA 2K series. After a week in Ohio court, the jury determined Take-Two has an implied license to recreate James’ tattoos, something that was extended to the game maker from James’ agreement with the company.

Hayden first sued Take-Two in 2017 over the use of several tattoos he made for James that were reproduced in NBA 2K games from 2016 to 2020.

Take-Two attorney Dale Cendali said the company is “gratified” for the verdict. He continued: “The decision is an important decision for the entertainment industry. It is also an important decision for anyone who has ever gotten a tattoo and might have otherwise worried about their freedom to share their bodies with their tattoos. And it is a good development for tattoo artists as a contrary verdict could have discouraged people from getting tattoos at a time when the art form is flourishing.” Hayden’s lawyers have not responded to Polygon’s request for comment.

Hayden was originally suing over six tattoos he created for James, but U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko ruled against the artist in early 2024, saying Hayden could only sue over two of those six tattoos: a tattoo of stars, and another of James’ mother’s name, Gloria.

The jury trial began Monday with opening arguments, where Hayden’s attorney Todd Tucker said Take-Two “painstakingly copied” Hayden’s work for the game, according to local news outlet Cleveland.com. Alongside opening arguments, jurors watched clips of NBA 2K games featuring James. James did not appear in court, but Take-Two’s lawyers intended to play his recorded deposition for the jury. Take-Two also called on game designer and Play Anything author Ian Bogost as a witness, according to court documents.

take-two wins lawsuit over lebron james’ tattoos

Tucker told jurors that Hayden has been compensated for the use of his tattoos — even on James — by other companies, like Warner Bros. with Space Jam 2. He got $1,500 for that use, Tucker said.

For Take-Two, attorney Dale Cendali said that Hayden got paid only after filing the lawsuit, and that James’ tattoos are a very small part of NBA 2K. Cendali said James licensed his own likeness to Take-Two through the NBA Players Association — a ruling in Hayden’s favor would mean James would have to ask Hayden permission to license his very own being, as reported by Cleveland.com.

“Take-Two didn’t need permission because Mr. James already gave Take-Two permission,” Cendali said. “That’s exactly what this case is about. The whole point is Mr. James’ ability to license his likeness. This case affects Mr. James much more than Take-Two.”

The issue at stake is whether a tattoo artist can copyright art they’ve given an “implied license” — i.e., putting something permanently on someone’s body. Sure, a sketch or design may be able to be copyrighted, but once it’s on another person, whose is it? For Hayden’s side, it’s a trademark issue, but Take-Two says a win in Hayden’s favor makes this a serious issue of ownership of licensing one’s likeness. It’s an issue that video game companies and tattoo artists have been litigating for years — and there’s still no real legal consensus.

This isn’t the first time a video game company has been sued over an athlete’s tattoos — not even the first time for Take-Two. A company called Solid Oak Sketches sued Take-Two in 2016 over James’ tattoos, as well as tattoos on Kobe Bryant, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, and Kenyon Martin. Solid Oak Sketches said it had licensing agreements for the tattoos. Take-Two won that lawsuit in 2020 after a judge declared the tattoos fair use. On the flip side, Take-Two lost a lawsuit in 2022 filed by tattoo artist Catherine Alexander, who inked five tattoos on WWE wrestler Randy Orton. She filed in 2018 after those designs showed up on Orton in WWE 2K games and ultimately received $3,750 in damages — not a huge win, but up from the $450 she said WWE originally (and unsuccessfully) offered her for licensing.

Hayden, the tattoo artist from this case, has another lawsuit ongoing with Take-Two over the use of tattoos on James, Danny Green, and Tristan Thompson in NBA 2K21; that lawsuit was on hold until a decision was made in the ongoing court battle.

In 2012, a tattoo artist sued Electronic Arts over a tattoo on NFL running back Ricky Williams’ arms after they were reproduced in NFL Street. In 2013, another tattoo artist sued THQ over UFC Undisputed 3, in which a tattoo from artist Christopher Escobedo’s work appears on fighter Carlos Condit. Both lawsuits were dismissed, and Condit’s tattoos were removed from the UFC game.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect the jury’s decision in favor of Take-Two Interactive Software.

OTHER NEWS

16 minutes ago

Burger King Drops New Menu Item and Brings Back Two Fan Favorites

16 minutes ago

Girl, three, with ultra-rare disease denied escape from Gaza for treatment

16 minutes ago

Norwich City sack David Wagner one day after Championship play-off humiliation

16 minutes ago

Paul Skenes strikes out 11 in 6 no-hit innings, gets 1st win as the Pirates beat the Cubs 9-3

16 minutes ago

Son Heung-min comments on miss that could cost Arsenal Premier League title

16 minutes ago

Dodgers make series of moves involving notable players

16 minutes ago

Financials and utilities will benefit from a Fed rate cut, says Ned Davis' Ed Clissold

16 minutes ago

LPGA Tour Release Statement After 10 Players Withdraw From Mizuho Americas Open

19 minutes ago

The secret to finding love as you get older? Take ten years off your age! Liz Earle claims she found new love by lying about how old she was as the 61-year-old beauty entrepreneur celebrates anniversary with a man 17 years her junior

19 minutes ago

MAFS fan favourites unite! Australian bride Tahnee Cook and UK groom Thomas Kriaras fuel romance rumours as they enjoy cosy night out in London after show heartbreak

19 minutes ago

3 underrated Amazon Prime Video movies you should watch this weekend (May 17-19)

19 minutes ago

Argentina’s Milei Plans to Meet With Zuckerberg at End of May

19 minutes ago

LA socialite Rebecca Grossman who plowed into two boys killing them both asks court to approve lawyer despite major 'conflict of interest'

19 minutes ago

I was groped and propositioned by my TV bosses, Loose Women's Kaye Adams reveals

19 minutes ago

Billie Eilish gives off 90s vibe in oversized jerseys and shorts as she performs steamy lyrics about dating women in new music video for 'lesbian anthem' Lunch

19 minutes ago

Rabbi, 65, denies two counts of sexual assault against the same woman and will face crown court trial

19 minutes ago

The Bachelor's Nick 'Honey Badger' Cummins sells his luxury resort style Gold Coast home for an impressive $2.6million

19 minutes ago

As controversial BrewDog boss steps away from £2billion business he helped found... How Toff tamed the £260m punk tycoon who likes to start his day with an ice bath

20 minutes ago

More severe weather to start the long weekend on the eastern Prairies

20 minutes ago

This Harry Potter Movie Paved the Way for the Rest of the Series

20 minutes ago

Lok Sabha Elections 2024 phase 5: Richest and poorest candidates in the fray

20 minutes ago

Ossoff: Postmaster's refusal to comply with oversight is 'baffling and disturbing'

26 minutes ago

Dabney Coleman, Emmy-winning actor from '9 to 5', 'Tootsie', dies at 92

26 minutes ago

Jimmy Reviews Cowboys Schedule: 'Can Confidence Survive?'

26 minutes ago

Tiger Woods will miss 2024 PGA Championship cut thanks to horrendous three-hole stretch on Friday

26 minutes ago

Minnesota Vikings News and Links, 17 May 2024

26 minutes ago

Toronto Maple Leafs hire Craig Berube as coach, hoping veteran can turn around longtime playoff woes

26 minutes ago

Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers thinking 'one game at a time' ahead of must-win Game 6

26 minutes ago

Mauricio Pochettino admits Wolves defeat could have cost him his job

26 minutes ago

Boston captain Brad Marchand returns for must-win Game 6 against Panthers

26 minutes ago

Haas' injury concern

26 minutes ago

Sask. students holding pro-Palestinian events explain why they don't have encampments

27 minutes ago

The Young Sheldon Finale's Big Bang Theory Cameo Even Hardcore Fans Missed

29 minutes ago

Intense storm hammers the Heights causing extensive damage, power outages and one death

29 minutes ago

Sheriff: Chambers County Pct. 3 constable dies after suffering medical episode, falling off horse

29 minutes ago

What we know about the damaged power transmission structures in the Houston area

31 minutes ago

Video: Supernatural stars DJ Qualls and Ty Olsson are ENGAGED - 10 years after meeting at a fan convention: 'We're going to be old men together'

31 minutes ago

Video: Girls Aloud are back! Band return to the stage for the first time in 11 years as their reunion tour kicks off in Dublin with heartbreaking tribute to late Sarah Harding, leaving fans in tears

32 minutes ago

P.E.I. considers banning people born after a certain date from smoking

32 minutes ago

After decisive loss at Alabama Mercedes plants, powerful auto union vows to return and win