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IMPACT WRESTLING TARGETS HARDY FAMILY WITH LEGAL LETTER, CLAIMS THEY OWN ALL OF THE BROKEN UNIVERSE CHARACTERS AND MATERIAL

By Mike Johnson on 2017-03-10 18:29:00

Impact Wrestling sent Matt and Jeff Hardy (and perhaps others) a 3* page cease and desist letter today, demanding they immediately stop all utilization of the "Broken" characters, PWInsider.com has confimed.  We are told that Impact is claiming that that intellectual property of the characters and anything related to them would fall under the ownership of the company, not Matt and Jeff Hardy, and that as of today, the Hardys are not to use anything related to the "Broken" universe going forward. 

The letter being sent is what sparked Rebecca Hardy's rant on Twitter earlier this afternoon.

Anthem's Ed Nordholm took to Twitter today, writing, "We thank @matthardybrand for a superb performance in Broken Universe. May the seven deities guide with their Broken Brilliance left behind.  @MATTHARDYBRAND Broken Universe will always be here. Kudos to the creative team behind the vision @JeremyBorash @paradysexoxo @Lagana @Billy"

The Tweets seem to take the credit for the "Broken" material away from Matt Hardy, who had an incredible amount of creative control and say over it, and places the creative credit specifically upon current and former Impact creative and production staffers, giving the impression that the material was created by Impact, not Hardy.

Impact Wrestling is claiming that any new, original intellectual property created by the Hardys while they were under contract to the company would be owned by Impact and cannot be used outside of their auspices.   Where the intellectual property begins and ends would certainly be up for debate, although the "Delete!" and "Obsolete" chants, as well as costuming and references to Seven Deities, Broken Brilliance, and perhaps even the dilapidated boat, could all claimed by Impact as their property.   It's also a weird situation in that Impact are going to have to argue and prove that "Broken Matt Hardy" is their IP, whereas Matt Hardy is not.  It gets even weirder if they are claiming to own "Brother Nero Hardy" when Nero is Jeff Hardy's actual middle name.

Matt Hardy filed for a trademark on the Broken Matt Hardy character himself on 3/1, right after his Impact contract expired.

Based on Rebecca Hardy's comments, it would appear the legal threat from Impact Wrestling would include her father, who portrayed Senor Benjamin despite not being signed or paid by TNA.   One would assume it would then include Rebecca's persona as "Queen Rebecca" and possibly even Matt and Rebecca's son, who appeared as "King Maxel."  Rebecca Hardy wrote that her father was never signed or paid by Impact Wrestling, which, if that is the case, makes Impact look like the worst kind of bullies for even targeting somone who performed for the company for free.

If Impact does follow up on the cease and desist and goes after the Hardy family legally, it puts the Impact in a situation where they are going after what was the most popular act on their roster, one of whom is scheduled to have a baby shortly - and that is the type of thing that is not going to endear Impact Wrestling to the very fans they were publicly trying to get back behind the company on their TV show this week, even if legally, Impact is in the right.    By going after talents who had given a lot to Impact in recent years - and who were always popular - it puts Impact right back into the position of being seen in a negative light yet again by fans.

Where the situation get dicey is this - The Hardys have already appeared in a Ring of Honor ring and are scheduled to appear in a few hours at the ROH 15th Anniversary PPV in Las Vegas.  If/when they do, it stands to reason that Impact might take aim at ROH or even future independent companies that allow the Hardys to appear in those guises, claiming they too are infringing on Impact's intellectual property.  There is no sign as of this writing that the Hardys, currently the ROH Tag Team champions, are in danger of being pulled from tonight's PPV.

Legally, a situation like this comes down to the legal language in the contracts.  If the Impact deals included language that any material created by the talents while they were under contract to Impact is retained by the company, Impact may indeed have a case.  That sort of clause is why when WWE talents leave, they can't retain their ring names, unless there's a case of someone like MVP, who created his character independent of the company and could legally continue to utilize and perform under that name.  If Matt and Jeff Hardy did not have that language in their contracts, all of this would be for moot and Impact wouldn't really have a case.

So, it appears the next place the battlefield in the broken universe will be a courtroom.

*Correction: The original version of this article listed that a 15 page cease and desist letter.  Multiple sources since then have stated the letter was actually three pages.

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