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WWE sues Jakks and THQ over alleged bribery and racketeering

Wed 20 Oct 2004 10:18am GMT / 6:18am EDT / 3:18am PDT

Wrestling entertainment group WWE has filed a lawsuit against a number of parties including THQ and Jakks Pacific, alleging that the WWE videogame licenses that they hold were obtained through bribery.

Wrestling entertainment group WWE has filed a lawsuit against a number of parties including THQ and Jakks Pacific, alleging that the WWE videogame licenses that they hold were obtained through bribery.

The lawsuit, which demands that the license be voided, also names several of Jakks' top ranked executives, former WWE licensing agent Stanley Shenker and Associates Inc, Bell Licensing Inc, and former WWE senior vice president of licensing and merchandising James Bell.

The gist of the claim is that in 1998 Bell, in his role at the WWE, conspired with Shenker to accept over $100,000 in bribes from Jakks related to the videogames license, which was ultimately awarded to Jakks in partnership with THQ.

According to the WWE suit, Bell hid "clearly superior" pitches from Activision and THQ from senior management, and advised Jakks to enhance its offer - resulting in the THQ partnership which continues to produce the hugely successful wrestling titles to this day.

The WWE now wants the resulting license to be nullified, and is also seeking damages resulting from the alleged bribery.

Commenting on the lawsuit this morning, THQ denied any wrongdoing and expressed its belief that it has handled the WWE license in a manner which is satisfactory to all parties involved in the deal.

"THQ believes that WWE is pleased with the manner in which THQ has managed their brand in the video game category," the statement reads. "As THQ is not directly accused of any wrongdoing in the complaint - rather the complaint alleges wrongdoing on the part of Jakks Pacific and others of which THQ was and is unaware - THQ is not in a position to comment on these allegations."

"In the event, either there is no basis for terminating the video game license, or THQ expects to be made whole by those whose conduct is eventually found to be unlawful. THQ intends to vigorously protect and pursue its rights, if necessary," it concludes.

In the event of the bribery allegations being proved true, it's certainly possible that THQ would be in a position to seek damages from those responsible if it truly was unaware of the situation - and the firm could be expected to win the WWE license for itself in such a situation.

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