REPORT: LeBron James tattoo lawsuit vs. NBA 2K dismissed by judge
The lawsuit filed against Take-Two Interactive in 2016 was dismissed by Manhattan federal judge Laura Swain, calling the use of tattoos too trivial to warrant deliberation. Solid Oak Sketches claimed that their copyright was infringed since the NBA players were shown with their tattoo designs for which the company holds licenses.
Among James’ tattoos included in the lawsuit were those named “Child Portrait,” “330 and Flames” and “Script with a Scroll, Clouds and Doves.”
Citing expert analysis, Judge Swain noted that “only 0.000286% to 0.000431% of the NBA 2K game data is devoted to the Tattoos” which were mostly obscured during gameplay. Swain sided with Take-Two’s argument that the tattoos were fair use because they were no longer the artists’ designs but have become part of the players’ likeness.
“The tattoos only appear on the players upon whom they are inked, which is just three out of over 400 available players,” Judge Swain wrote. “The undisputed factual record shows that average game play is unlikely to include the players with the Tattoos and that, even when such players are included, the display of the tattoos is small and indistinct, appearing as rapidly moving visual features of rapidly moving figures in groups of player figures. Furthermore, the tattoos are not featured on any of the game’s marketing materials.”