A lawsuit was filed in December 2022 over the copyright for the design of ring gear worn by a top AEW star.
As reported by Wrestlenomics, Composite Effects LLC (aka CFX) made a legal complaint that was dated December 20, 2022 against All Elite Wrestling and Austin Matelson (AEW’s Luchasaurus).
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court Eastern District of Louisiana, claims that AEW and Matelson are using a copyrighted mask design for merchandising purposes without the permission of the designer.
The designer states that even though it authorized Luchasaurus to use the mask as a performer, neither he nor AEW were authorized to create and sell merchandise incorporating the design.
The plaintiff wrote:
“Matelson was entitled to use the mask in events as a wrestler, but neither he nor anyone acting on his behalf was entitled to create merchandise that incorporated the mask design.”
In support of the lawsuit, the plaintiff presented examples of the mask depicted in AEW merchandise advertising, including the design being seen on T-shirts and action figures.
The company claims that this infringes the copyright on its design.
According to the complaint, Matelson worked with the design company around December 2016 to have a modified version of what the designers call the “Viper Silicone Mask”.
The mask design would be modified again in March 2019, adding horns to the mask.
According to email records included with the lawsuit filing, Composite Effects learned that Matelson signed with AEW in 2019 and would try to come to a licensing agreement with him.
It was also reported that Composite Effects and AEW personnel communicated in February 2021 to create a new mask which AEW bought the rights to and was shipped in August 2021.
This new mask design, it is reported, was either not used much or not used at all.
In relations to this mask design, the contents of an email was included in the lawsuit.
In the email, Matelson writes:
“Hey man thanks for the work on the new mask but after getting a look of it on my face Tony and I agreed my current mask is just too iconic at this point and we can’t change the face.”
The Tony in question would, naturally, be Tony Khan, AEW’s CEO.
The plaintiff asserts that they wrote further messages to AEW and Matelson in 2022 asking them to stop using the design or to come to a licensing agreement.
No deal was made and the design was still used on AEW merchandise.
Composite Effects also included a written declaration from George Frangadakis, another designer, stating that Matelson approached him in January 2022 to engage him in the design of a mask similar to the one for which Composite Effects holds the copyright.
According to Frangadakis’ statement, Matelson and an associate known as “Jett” wanted “a near replics of CFX’s custom-designed mask.”
“It was clear that there were legal issues that needed to be handled prior to my designing a new mask for Matelson.”
The designer would then offer to make a mask that didn’t resemble the copyrighted CFX mask, but wouldn’t be contacted again by either Matelson or “Jett”.
Composite Effects is seeking profits from AEW that have been made in relation to the alleged infringement, other damages sustained as a result from such and attorneys’ fee.
Further details for the case can be found on the Wrestlenomics website.
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