The concept of Intellectual Property in professional wrestling is always a tricky one, as gimmick infringement is a very real thing. In fact, it is not rare to see lawsuits being filed in the business. It seems that is exactly what’s happening with AEW right now.
On December 20, Composite Effects, LLC filed a legal complaint against AEW and wrestler Austin Matelson Luchasaurus) alleging that the design of the Luchasaurus mask is protected by copyright and that it is being used for merchandise without the designer’s permission.
As reported by Wrestlenomics, it was revealed in the legal complaint that Austin Matelson first worked with Composite Effects (CFX) in December 2016 to create a modified version of a pre-existing CFX design called the “Viper Silicone Mask.” In March 2019, the mask was adjusted once again, this time with the addition of horns.
“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.”
According to the legal complaint, when Composite Effects learned that Matelson had signed with AEW in 2019, the company attempted to establish a licensing agreement with him. When no agreement was reached, CFX and AEW representatives began discussing the creation of a new mask, which AEW then purchased the rights to.
The new mask was shipped in August 2021, but, according to the complaint, it was rarely used, if ever. Emails provided by CFX as evidence, Matelson stated that “he and Tony” had agreed that the current mask is too iconic to change.
“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.”
Ultimately, Composite Effects reached out to AEW and Luchasaurus in 2022, requesting them to either stop using the copyrighted mask or to come to terms on a licensing agreement. However, no deal was reached, and the mask continued to be used in merchandise.
Additionally, the complaint states that Matelson contacted another designer, George Frangadakis, to create a mask similar to the one that CFX holds the copyright to. According to a statement by Frangadakis, Matelson and an associate known as “Jett” wanted “a near replica 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.”
Composite Effects is currently seeking profits AEW has made related to the alleged infringement, other damages sustained as a result, and attorneys’ fees. We’ll keep you updated on this ongoing case.
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