WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett and his Global Force Entertainment LLC have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Anthem Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of Impact Wrestling. PWInsider reports that the suit was filed on August 10 in the United States District Court of Tennessee.
Jarrett and GFW have requested a jury trial and are seeking an injunction that would prevent Anthem from copying, distributing, selling, offering for sale and displaying the GFW Amped content. Amped is the TV show that Jarrett filmed for GFW in its early days. The injunction would also prevent Anthem from using the Global Force Wrestling and GFW names, the logo and anything similar, including “but not limited to, Global Wrestling Network, GWN, and the GWN logo.” This could create significant problems for Anthem as it would mean they would have to immediately suspend their Global Wrestling Network streaming service, which also uses the GWN name.
The 26-page lawsuit also asks the court to order Anthem and any associated to delete or destroy copies of GFW content, with the exception of the master copies, which are to be returned to Jarrett and GFE. GFW is seeking “an award of punitive and/or treble damages for at least three times the amount of Defendants’ profits or GFE’s damages, whichever is greater, due to the nature of Defendants’ wanton and willful conduct.”
The lawsuit also makes the following allegations against Anthem:
* That they violated state & federal trademark infringements related to GFE
* That they violated Jarrett’s exclusive property rights to his own name, photograph and other likeness
* That they have used a “a reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation of the GLOBAL FORCE WRESTLING and GFW trademarks” in commerce, which is a violation of the Lanham Act, which prohibits trademark infringement, false advertising and trademark dilution. The suit also claims violation of the Lanham Act through alleged “acts of unfair competition” that were done “with the intent to deceive the public into believing that goods and services offered or sold by Defendants are made by, approved by sponsored by, or affiliated” with GFE
* That they have “caused products and/or services to enter interstate commerce designated with variations” of the GFW and Global Force Wrestling trademarks. The suit alleges another violation of the Lanham Act, claiming, “Defendants’ use of said designation and other representations constitute a false designation of origin which is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, and to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of Defendants with GFE and as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of such goods and services by GFE.”
* That they were involved in “Unfair Competition in Violation of Tennessee Common Law”, alleging, “GFE and Defendants compete for a common pool of customers. As alleged herein, Defendants have engaged in unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent conduct, which is likely to cause, if it has not already, customer confusion in violation of Tennessee common law.”
* That they have unjustly enriched themselves through their actions, violating the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The suit claims, “Defendants have violated and, upon information and belief, continue to violate GFE’s exclusive rights in the GFW Amped content and the 16 associated copyrights, including, but not limited to, the right to reproduce, right to prepare and sell derivative works, and right to vend by copying, publishing, distributing, and publicly displaying in the marketplace in this District, and in all marketplaces reached by the Internet, videos that were copied or otherwise derived from the GFW Amped content.”
The suit claims Jarrett and GFE were approached by Anthem in October 2016 for initial talks about merging with Anthem Sports “in exchange for membership and equity in Anthem Sports.” This would have included hiring Jarrett as Chief Creative Officer. The companies signed a non-disclosure agreement on December 9, 2016. Jarrett then signed a consultant deal with Anthem in January 2017. Jarrett then provided the only set of masters for the 16 one-hour episodes of the GFW Amped TV show to Anthem. GFE claims Anthem is still in possession of the masters and as noted, they are asking them to be returned. Jarrett and Anthem then signed a deal in May 2017 that would bring Jarrett in as the Chief Creative Officer of Anthem Wrestling. They also signed an agreement for a merger that would see Anthem acquire GFE, which would include ownership of the Amped episodes. Anthem announced the merger via press release at the time.
Jarrett’s suit alleges that he announced merger never went through after he was terminated by Anthem and that Anthem had acknowledged GFE’s ownership of Amped but they still reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, offered for sale and sold the series without providing any compensation or royalties to Jarrett or GFE. The suit notes how Anthem promoted pay-per-view events under the Amped name, using content that was originally shot for the GFW weekly TV series. The suit specifically mentions the Global Wrestling app and DVDs that were sold on the Impact website, noting, “Upon information and belief, Defendants continue to monetize the GFW Amped content as pay-per-view, premium television, streaming, and other viewing options on a worldwide scale.”
The suit also alleges that Anthem does not have a license to use the Amped content, Jarrett’s name or image or the GFE trademarks in connection to the Amped content. It was also alleged that Jarrett and GFE have both suffered “irreparable harm and loss of goodwill” that cannot be “completely remedied,” in part because “given the nature of the advertising and promoting the loss of identifiable consumers is not readily obtainable.”