Anthem exec releases portions of Hardy contract in IP dispute

May 24, 2017

Ed Nordholm, Executive Vice President of Anthem Sports & Entertainment, sent out an email and attachment of portions of Matt Hardy’s contract related to the use of the “Broken Brilliance” creative which is sparking a potential Intellectual Property dispute between the Hardy’s and its former contractors.

MMA Payout obtained a copy of the along with members of the pro wrestling media.  The email sent out on Tuesday outlines the substance of communcations between Anthem (i.e., TNA Impact Wrestling) and the Hardy Brothers over the potential use of their “Broken” gimmick in WWE.  For those that have been following, the Hardy Brothers used the gimmick in Ring of Honor after leaving Impact Wrestling.  A cease and desist letter was sent to Ring of Honor and its distributors to prevent the Hardys to use their gimmicks while developed in Imp act Wrestling.

The email outlines the log of communications between Nordholm and the Hardy’s.  You can envision it being included in a declaration if this were to go to court.

  • March 10 – EBN speaks with executives at ROH about “Broken Brilliance” being used in ROH shows. I indicated willingness to provide an arrangement that would allow the creative to be used in ROH shows and encouraged ROH to have Matt speak with me if he wanted to pursue that discussion
  • March 11 – EBN spoke at length with Matt by telephone about the structure of an amicable arrangement for use of the Broken Brilliance creative
  • March 14 – Matt sent text message to Ed Nordholm at 4:05pm:

“Tried giving you a call, it rang & went busy. I’m open to working things out amicably as we spoke about. The lawyer who represent me is interested in seeing your offer. My lawyer’s email is {redacted} which you could send the offer to for review. Thanks.”

And I responded by text at 6:41 pm

“Thank you Matt. I was supposed to be [flying] into NYC today and am a little twisted. I will pull something together with [our] lawyers and try to get it over to your lawyer tomorrow or Thursday at latest“

  • March 16 – At 8:25 pm I sent an update text to Matt:

“Hi Matt. My lawyer got me a draft too late to get reviewed for today. I will look at it in the morning. Sorry for the delay”

And he responded at 9:16 pm

“Ok, he’s ready for it. Thanks for the update.”

  • March 17 – counsel for Anthem Wrestling delivered draft proposal to counsel for Matt Hardy
  • March 24 – counsel for Anthem Wresting followed up with Matt Hardy counsel requesting comments on the proposal
  • March 27 – counsel for Matt Hardy responds that they have been away and have not reviewed the proposal but will be back “in the next few days”

After which no further communication until

  • April 18 – counsel for Matt Hardy leaves a voice mail message for counsel for Anthem Wrestling asking to arrange a meeting
  • April 20 – EBN contacts WWE by email to determine veracity of internet rumours concerning WWE interest in Broken Brilliance
  • April 21 — WWE respond by email that there “is no interest on our end” {redacted email exchange attached}
  • April 21 – counsel for Matt Hardy sends a follow up message requesting a meeting
  • April 27 – lawyers speak to arrange a meeting
  • May 16 – lawyers meet but no agreement reached

In addition, Nordholm included relevant portions of the Hardy contract with Impact Wrestling.  The blue underlined sentences are from Nordholm’s copy.  It is done to highlight the terms which they argue rule this contract issue.   Notably, section C reflects that the Company owns all Performances, “free from any claims of ownership by the Contractor (i.e., Matt and Jeff Hardy) or any other party.  Section D notes the “Assignment of Works” is owned by the Company even if the contract is terminated.  Under the Original Intellectual Property and Merchandising Section B it notes that the Company shall be “free from any claims of ownership by the Contractor.”

Hardy Contract Extract by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

As we opined in our post on March 30th, “Who owns your gimmick?”  The contract is the first thing that you have to look at when determining who owns the intellectual property created during the contracted relationship.  Was the contract legal?  It appears it is from what has been produced.  Next, the Independent Contractor Agreement reflects the fact that anything made while under contract is owned by the Company.  It’s quite unfair but not unusual.

The release seems like a way to avoid potential litigation over the Copyright issue.  Assuming the contract was signed by the Hardys and was valid at the time of signature, the provisions in the contract would favor TNA.  Clearly, what the company is angling toward is a possible license it can sell to the WWE for use of the gimmick.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

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