Big Update: The Martha Hart vs. WWE Lawsuit
Partial Source: Pwinsider
Portions of Martha Hart’s lawsuit against WWE and the McMahons over the use of Owen Hart’s likeness were dismissed in court within the last couple of weeks. On November 16th, the judge in the case threw out parts of the lawsuit against WWE, though exactly what was dismissed and what remains is not confirmed. The portions of the lawsuit that were remaining before the partial dismissal were the following claims:
* That Owen’s name would have reverted back to strictly his usage after his passing
* That his legal name would not be considered his character’s name (i.e. that WWE did not have the rights to use, market and promote him as Owen Hart)
* That WWE released several DVDs other products such as the WWE Encyclopedia without giving Hart’s estate proper payments per his booking contract
* That WWE used “original intellectual property” (e.g. family photos) without the permission of Owen’s estate
* That the Owen Hart Foundation has been hurt by the unwanted association with WWE due to WWE’s usage of Owen Hart’s name and likeness
In addition, a motion to dismiss Martha’s copyright infringement suit against against Vince McMahon personally was partially approved as it was ruled that Martha had “failed to present sufficient evidence of McMahon’s vicarious liability for copyright infringement.” It was noted that in order to establish liability, Hart had to prove that McMahon had “the right and ability to supervise and an obvious and direct financial interest in the exploitation of copyrighted materials” and that she failed to do that since the only proof presented was that Vince is WWE’s President and majority shareholder.
Linda McMahon was not mentioned in any of the rulings, meaning that the lawsuit against her may still be proceeding. The McMahons did not get their requested sanctions against Hart’s lawyer to pay for legal fees approved, nor their request to have certain remarks made in Hart’s latest amended lawsuit stricken.