Does someone other than LeBron James own the rights to the tattoos on LeBron James’ body?
The videogame maker, Take-Two Software, has been sued by a company that has demanded more than $1.1 million in licensing fees for eight tattoo designs featured on the bodies of NBA All-Stars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, as well as Kenyon Martin, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday in New York federal court by Solid Oak Sketches, which claims to own copyrights to several tattoo designs featured prominently in the video game. The lawsuit alleges that Take-Two Interactive Software and other companies associated with the realistic videogame NBA 2K16 committed unauthorized reproductions of those tattoo designs.
The interesting legal question over whether tattoo designs are copyrightable has never been fully decided by a court, as acknowledged in the new lawsuit. A prior lawsuit related to the “Mike Tyson face tattoo” against Warner Bros. over the Hangover 2 settled, as have other disputes including one by a tattoo artist, Christopher Escobedo, who tattooed a UFC fighter and later asked a bankruptcy court to determine the value of his tattoo claim against videogame publisher THQ.
In a demand letter to Take-Two Software before the lawsuit was filed, Solid Oak Sketches offered a perpetual license to the eight tattoos in question, for a fee of $1,144,000.
Apparently, Take-Two Software declined the licensing fee offer. Take-Two declined to comment about the lawsuit, which demands injunctive relief and monetary damages. We will monitor this case for further developments.