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IMPACT WRESTLING OWNER ANTHEM FILES COUNTER-LAWSUIT AGAINST JEFF JARRETT & GWE

By Mike Johnson on 2019-07-19 12:22:00

Impact Wrestling parent company Anthem Wrestling filed a counter-suit against Jeff Jarrett and his company Global Wrestling Entertainment on 7/17 in the the United States District Court of The Middle District of Tennessee, while also responding to the latest amended version of the lawsuit Jarrett and GWE have brought against them.

In their response to Jarrett and GWE’s allegations against them, Anthem argued they are the rightful owner of the copyright for Jeff Jarrett and have “acted at all times in compliance with its obligations to maintain that trademark registration”, that Jarrett and GWE granted a license for Anthem to use Jarrett’s name, that Jarrett granted a license for Anthem to use the GFW assets and that Anthem “acted at all times in compliance with that license”, that Anthem has not made any money off their usage of the GFW Amped content, that Jarrett was aware that the masters had been deleted, that there could be no “ no likelihood of confusion between any valid trademark owned by Plaintiffs and the products or content sold by Anthem Wrestling because, among other reasons, the products contained both parties’ marks”, that the look and trademarks of GFW and the “Global Fighting Network” are not confusingly similar (it was not noted the name has been dropped in favor of Impact+), that there is no likely confusion since .”Global Force Entertainment marks are weak and only entitled to a narrow scope of protection”, that Jarrett and GWE have failed to state a claim for unjust enrichment since they were compensated by Impact and that “no action or omission by Anthem Wrestling caused Plaintiffs injury.”

Anthem also cited that Jarrett and GWE were not due a jury trial as they have requested because the term sheet both parties entered into when Jarrett began working for Anthem notes, “EACH OF THE PARTIES HEREBY IRREVOCABLY WAIVES ANY AND ALL RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY IN ANY LEGAL PROCEEDING ARISING OUT OF OR RELATED TO THIS SUMMARY OF TERMS OR THE TRANSACTIONS CONTEMPLATED HEREBY.”

Anthem also claimed that “Plaintiffs’ claims are barred to the extent they have, by virtue of their own acts, omissions and conduct, waived any and all claims against Anthem Wrestling” and that Jarrett and GWE’s “unclean hands” should bar them from any relief. 

Impact’s counter-lawsuit paints a picture of Anthem’s version of events, noting, “Anthem Wrestling and Mr. Jarrett entered into discussions wherein GFE would merge into Anthem Wrestling in exchange for Mr. Jarrett receiving a seat on the board of managers, an officer-level position with a large salary, a job for Mr. Jarrett’s wife, and an equity interest in Anthem Wrestling.”

According to Anthem, Jarrett would bring his expertise to Impact (which Anthem had just acquired by calling in their loan to Dixie Carter’s company, seizing control when it was unable to pay back the debt) and would bring Global Force Wrestling and GFW brands as well as the raw footage for GFW’s planned TV series Amped!

Anthem’s lawsuit pointed out that the GFW Amped! TV content that was owned by Jarrett and GFE was “not new” and had been taped two years prior at the point they entered into their deal with Jarrett to come on board and had been unable to find anyone interested in monetizing it.

Anthem also claimed that GFW’s footage was basically floating in suspended animation at the time Jarrett came on board with Impact, as Jarrett and GWE had entered into a $292,000 agreement with Kevin Sullivan (who currently works on AEW and Impact video packages) and his company KSTV, LLC to handle all the post-production work needed on the GFW Amped material.

However, according to Anthem’s lawsuit, “KSTV performed the post-production work and turned the raw footage into marketable content but Plaintiff did not make the required payments under the Post-Production Contract. Accordingly, KSTV would not release physical custody of the Amped Content to Plaintiffs because it had not been paid for its services.”

So, the claim is that since Jarrett/GWE could not “consummate” any deals for the GFW footage, they did not have the money to pay KSTV for the GFW work at the time and KSTV was withholding the delivery of the material since they had not been paid.

Anthem claims that their planned merger offered a way “out of this dilemma” for Jarett, noting that Anthem paid $40,000 towards an installment plan with KSTV, LLC in order to get the content released so that the material could be completed and used.  Anthem notes that “Jarrett was made Chief Creative Officer of Anthem Wrestling effective April of 2017, and given complete authority over its wrestling operations and the content that the company would create, market, and sell” and under his watch as CCO, “ the post-production work on the Amped Content was completed and was packaged as five different PPV broadcasts and was marketed with both the GFW and IMPACT! Trademarks.”

It is not noted in the lawsuit, but Kevin Sullivan himself was brought back to work for Impact in the production end at this time and would have likely personally overseen all of the work on GFW Amped.

Anthem noted, “The Amped Content was also packaged as DVDs and sold on-line. Also during Mr. Jarrett’s tenure as Anthem Wrestling’s Chief Creative Officer, the company decided to use the phrase “Global Wrestling Network” as a descriptor for an Over-the-Top application developed by Anthem Wrestling upon which wrestling content would be marketed.”

Anthem cited that Jarrett’s employment was terminated in October 2017 and that the planned merger did not “go as planned.”  As previously reported, Jarrett later entered rehab with the help of World Wrestling Entertainment, successfully completing a program and has since been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.  He now works in creative and as a producer for WWE, occasionally appearing on TV as his old “Double J” persona.

In noting that Jarrett and GWE have existing claims against them, Anthem alleged that all but one of the claims arise from decisions that Jarrett was responsible for making while working for Anthem as Impact Wrestling’s Chief Creative Officer, meaning he would be responsible for everything he is alleging they did to damage GFE and himself.

The lawsuit notes, “Almost all of Mr. Jarrett’s claims arise out of conduct he personally authorized and oversaw during his tenure as Chief Creative Officer of Anthem Wrestling, a post he officially held from April to October of 2017, but performed as a consultant since January of 2017. As Anthem’s Chief Creative Officer, Mr. Jarrett gave both express and implied permission for Anthem Wrestling to use the Amped Content, the Plaintiffs’ trademarks, and Jarrett’s own image and likeness (collectively the “Jarrett Intellectual Property”) as described in the Second Amended Complaint. Moreover, while acting as Anthem Wrestling’s Chief Content Officer, Jarrett participated in and authorized the selection of the trademark GLOBAL WRESTLING NETWORK for use by Anthem Wrestling.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Jarrett broke his fiduciary duty and loyalty to Anthem, citing that Jarrett knew Anthem would rely on “his representations” and work and if he didn’t believe Anthem had the rights to utilize the GFW content while being in charge of them for Impact, he breached those duties.  Anthem cited that their agreement with Jarrett “required him to act for the exclusive benefit of Anthem Wrestling and with the utmost good faith in furthering and advancing Anthem Wrestling’s interests with respect to all matters failing within the scope of his employment.”

Anthem argued, “To the extent that Jarrett’s conduct does not constitute the grant of an implied license, Jarrett breached his duty of loyalty to Anthem Wrestling when he arranged for it to use the Jarrett Intellectual Property without giving it the necessary licenses to do so and without disclosing that information to it, thus incurring extensive liability and legal expense for Anthem.”

Anthem is also claiming that when they made the $40,000 payment to KSTV, LLC to free the GFW Amped footage so that additional work could be done to prepare its release via Impact PPV and DVD releases, Jarrett and GWE were aware Anthem expected to be reimbursed for that payment, which did not happen. Anthem cites that this was unjust enrichment (because of GWE’s reduced debt to KSTV, LLC) and that their company has been damaged because of it.

Anthem is requesting, “All damages arising from Jarrett’s breach of his duty of loyalty to Anthem Wrestling, in an amount to be determined at trial, All damages arising from Jarrett’s breach of his duty of loyalty to Anthem Wrestling, in an amount to be determined at trial; The sum of $40,000 plus post-judgment interest as the sum Plaintiffs have unjustly retained by accepting the benefits of Anthem Wrestling’s $40,000 payment to KSTV and any other relief to which Anthem Wrestling is entitled after a full trial on the merits.”

PWInsider.com has reached out to Jarrett and GWE’s legal representation to see if they have any comment on the counter-suit.  Should they opt to comment, we will update this article and note the update in the headline.

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