Erin L. Webb
Two video game publishers have recently been targets of lawsuits alleging that their video game and box art infringed upon tattoo artists’ copyrights. Electronic Arts (EA) has been sued over the 2004 title NFL Street, with star athlete Ricky Williams — and his tattoo — prominently figured on the front of the box. The tattoo artist alleges that EA did so without his permission and in infringement of his copyright to the tattoo design. Another artist sued THQ, publisher of UFC Undisputed 3, alleging that the in-game model of Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Carlos Condit used a copyrighted tattoo design without permission. These types of lawsuits may give rise to coverage under the target companies’ liability insurance policies, which could help to defray the costs of defending against those lawsuits and potentially the costs of any resulting liability or settlement.
Though policy wordings may differ, in general, most comprehensive general liability (CGL) policies cover “personal and advertising injury liability.” If the policyholder company is sued, and the claims involve “advertising injury” as defined by the policy, the policyholder is potentially entitled to a defense and indemnity for any liability. Though some policies contain exclusions for copyright infringement, an exception to that exclusion may grant coverage back for “infringement . . . in your ‘advertisement’, of copyright, trade dress or slogan.” Continue reading “Potential Insurance Coverage for Lawsuits Against Video Game Publishers Alleging Copyright Infringement of Celebrity Tattoo Art”