Major League Wrestling continues to claim that WWE holds a monopoly on the professional wrestling industry. The company sued WWE for antitrust violations, citing unfair business practices. MLW believes WWE strongarmed streaming service Tubi as well as the Vice cable network into passing on their programming.
WWE filed a motion to dismiss the suit last month. Their legal team claims that AEW securing a nearly $50 million annual rights deal with WarnerMedia as well as Impact finding a home on television are enough evidence to throw out the case. WWE’s reasoning was basically that if MLW didn’t offer an inferior product, they too could get a TV rights contract.
MLW has now responded to WWE’s motion to dismiss the case. Mike Johnson of PW Insider published their lengthy response. MLW has attempted to cite past legal precedent to convince the judge to continue with the lawsuit.
“Contrary to WWE’s assertion, Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require MLW to detail, before discovery, WWE’s threats that led to the termination of the Tubi contract, particularly given that many of those details are peculiarly within WWE’s knowledge. While WWE claims that it is not plausible that it would threaten Fox because Fox is its principal distributor, that is not so and at most raises a factual issue precluding dismissal. In fact, courts regularly uphold as plausible claims based on defendants threatening their principal distributors and MLW alleges conduct by WWE no different from and no less plausible than that of those other defendants.
MLW has also properly alleged that WWE intentionally interfered with prospective economic relations by alleging that WWE’s threats to VICE led that company to abandon its negotiations with MLW to air new MLW content. WWE incorrectly contends that MLW must also allege that WWE knew specifically that the parties were negotiating the airing of MLW’s new content. Under California law, however that is not so—MLW need only plead, as it clearly does, that WWE knew that its actions would interfere with VICE and MLW’s economic relationship. As to MLW’s UCL claim, MLW has statutory and Article III standing because it alleges that WWE’s conduct was directed at harming MLW’s relationship with Tubi, a California resident, and MLW seeks to enjoin WWE from continuing to undermine MLW’s business. Accordingly, and as shown further below, the motion should be denied in its entirety.”
WWE has until May 16 to reply to MLW’s rebuttal. The court will then rule on whether the case will be thrown out or not. No further hearings are scheduled on the matter until September. Both sides have presented their evidence, now it will fall to the judge to decide whether MLW’s argument has merit.
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