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WWE Suing Video Game Developer THQ - Updated!
WWE have apparently filed a lawsuit against their own video game developer, THQ. Also accused in the lawsuit are toy manufacturer Jakk's Pacific, also long-term business partners with WWE.

The lawsuit has to do with a bribery claim, and it is a very good chance that this suit could spell the end of the relationship between WWE and the two parties.

This will most likely also mean that THQ's popular SmackDown! gaming series, along with other titles for other systems, will end. However, it would be even more likely that WWE will go fishing for deals with other development companies.

According to IGN, the lawsuit will have no effect on titles scheduled for release this year.

News courtesy of IGN.Com:

"World Wrestling Entertainment announced today it has filed suit against a number of parties related to its licenses, including toy manufacturer Jakks Pacific and videogame publisher THQ -- long the home of hugely popular WWE-licensed games.

In essence, the suit alleges that former WWE Senior Vice President of Licensing and Merchandising James Bell and licensing agent Stanley Shenker & Associates, Inc. (SSAI), received money from Jakks in order to secure videogame rights to WWE properties for a joint venture of Jakks and THQ. The suit further alleges that Bell recommended WWE make SSAI its licensing agent after Bell received payment from SSAI.

The suit claims violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO); violations of the anti-bribery provisions of the Robinson-Patman Act; as well as claims under state law.

WWE is seeking damages as well as a declaration that the videogame license with the joint venture of Jakks and THQ, and a related amendment to the toy license with Jakks, are void due to commercial bribery. This could effectively mean an end to THQ's WWE-licensed titles.

In a statement, WWE CEO Linda McMahon said, "We very much regret having to take this action today, but regret even more the facts and circumstances which have compelled us to do so. WWE's intellectual property is a valuable asset of the Company, and we believe the actions taken today are necessary to preserve the integrity of our licensing process and essential to ensure that WWE receives appropriate and fair compensation for the grant of a license to use our intellectual property."

THQ's multi-million selling WWE-licensed games, including the much-anticipated Smackdown vs. Raw expected next month, already comprise one of the most successful videogame franchises today.

What this will mean for the future of WWE-licensed games -- and, of course, THQ's involvement -- is uncertain. The company's official statement is as follows:

THQ is committed to preserving its rights under the videogame license with the WWE. THQ believes the WWE is pleased with the manner in which THQ has managed their brand in the video game category. As THQ is not directly accused of any wrongdoing in the complaint -- rather the complaint alleges wrongdoing on the part of JAKKS Pacific and others of which THQ was and is unaware -- THQ is not in a position to comment on these allegations. In any event, either there is no basis for terminating the video game license, or THQ expects to be made whole by those whose conduct is eventually found to be unlawful. THQ intends to vigorously protect and pursue its rights, if necessary.

The lawsuit has no effect on games currently scheduled for release, including WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw, which is scheduled to ship on November 2.

We'll keep you posted as more develops."

Update!

THQ have officially replied to the lawsuit made by WWE, and in it they are stating that they will try to retain their WWE video game license at pretty much all costs. They are also stating that the issue over which WWE sued was out of their hands, and blame is solely on Jakk's Pacific.

Also, they confirm that the up and coming THQ games will NOT be delayed, as already reported.

News courtesy of THQ.Com:

"THQ is committed to preserving its rights under the videogame license with the WWE. THQ believes the WWE is pleased with the manner in which THQ has managed their brand in the video game category. As THQ is not directly accused of any wrongdoing in the complaint -- rather the complaint alleges wrongdoing on the part of JAKKS Pacific and others of which THQ was and is unaware -- THQ is not in a position to comment on these allegations. In any event, either there is no basis for terminating the video game license, or THQ expects to be made whole by those whose conduct is eventually found to be unlawful. THQ intends to vigorously protect and pursue its rights, if necessary.

The lawsuit has no effect on games currently scheduled for release, including WWE SmackDown!(TM) vs. Raw(TM), which is scheduled to ship on November 2."

2004-Oct-20 09:33 am by Mr Taco
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