THQ Gets Tattooed By Lawsuit

THQ Gets Tattooed By Lawsuit
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If you think you’ve had a rough couple of weeks, pour one out for THQ. Its stock price did a swan dive on November 5, the same day of a disastrous earnings call that sent up rumours the publisher is trying to sell itself off. Then word passed it was in default on a $US50 million credit arrangement. Now it’s being sued for unlicensed use of original art. Tattoo art.

Chris Escobedo, owner of Elite Tattoo of Phoenix, Ariz., says THQ stole his artwork when it recreated a tattoo of a lion on MMA fighter Carlos Condit in UFC Undisputed 3 (that’s him and the ink, above at left). Escobedo owns that design, and THQ never got permission to use it. A news release by Escobedo didn’t specify the amount he was seeking.

If this sounds ridiculous, remember that the folks who made The Hangover 2 got into some hot water with the guy who designed Mike Tyson’s distinctive face tattoo (a character got the same tattoo in the flick.) While both sides settled, it appeared likely that the artist would have prevailed in that case. So this is not something THQ can ignore.

And, come to think of it, it’s not something any maker of sports video games where real-world athletes and their real-world tats appear. I’m thinking specifically of NBA games. The NBA has a photo day in which every feature of a player’s (uniformed) body is photographed up close. I’ve seen the images. I asked a designer what possible purpose they serve other than to assist video game artists in recreating those tattoos. “Beats me”, he shrugged.

I know that some players’ tattoos are missing in NBA 2K13; it’s possible this is the reason why. But given the enormous volume of body art in that league, it’s almost a certainty someone else is going to pinch a publisher for money down the road.

Tattoo artist sues THQ over UFC Undisputed 3 [Polygon]


  • Ridiculous. Positively ridiculous. Tattoo Artists? What about body piercers? Plastic Surgeons?

    I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

  • Seems like they should have filed this with the UFC, the UFC would have sold the rights to THQ to use the likeness of the fighters which in this case if the tattoo is an original design the UFC did not have the rights to sell.

    • He probably hasn’t. Every tattooist I know won’t use other peoples artwork/tattoos as a reference point. They won’t copy or trace them at all. Its a big deal in the tattoo industry. People walk in off the street with photos of other peoples tattoos or designs and they get told they won’t be recreated or to visit the original tattooer. Otherwise they can only be used as a concept to have original artwork drawn by that tattooer.

  • This seems pretty unfair to me. If some other tattoo artist was making a killing inking his design, then sure. Go after them. But selling your design to someone and then trying to sue for a reproduction of that person is a bit much.

  • Once a tattoo artist tattoo’s someone with original art, the tattoo artist no longer owns it. It’s not a painting, hung in a museum, its a tattoo.

  • This is kind of a grey area I think. I’ve left game development to tattoo full time. If you tattoo someone and they appear on a magazine cover or a game in this instance, then there’s nothing the tattoo artist can do about it. But if the design or even the image of a finished tattoo is taken and used in a poster, clothing brand, or anything else to promote a product, then the tattoo artist can do something about it. When you look at the flash in shops, it has copy right all over it. It can only be used for tattoos, anything else has to have the artists ok. I’m in the process now of having my designs and finished tattoos made into prints and on clothing and I have to go through a whole lot of copyright issues now

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