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WWE Settles Lawsuit Over Owen Hart Royalties

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By Andrew Lu on April 04, 2013 10:06 AM

The widow of the late WWE star Owen Hart says she has settled her lawsuit brought against the WWE.

In her lawsuit, Martha Hart claimed her right to royalties related to the use of her late husband's image, reports The Associated Press. Owen Hart died in 1999 as he was being lowered into a wrestling ring at a WWE event in Kansas City. He was 34 years old.

Martha Hart brought her lawsuit in 2010, alleging that the WWE failed to pay her royalties and violated a contract restricting the use of Owen Hart's name and likeness.

The details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Strange as it may seem, the WWE lawsuit brought by Martha Hart was actually an intellectual property lawsuit. The WWE had argued that it had the right to use copyrighted material featuring Owen Hart. But Hart's widow and his estate claimed they had the exclusive right to the late wrestler's likeness, and that the WWE could not simply use Owen Hart's name and images as they pleased.

The process of an intellectual property lawsuit is much like the process of any other lawsuit. The two sides likely engaged in several pre-trial conferences and discussed how to resolve their issues to avoid a trial.

Typically, a settlement before trial is attractive to both sides as a trial can be very expensive. In addition, a trial can lead to very uncertain results. In contrast, by settling a dispute, the two sides can hammer out exactly what they want and oftentimes the settlement agreement may be mutually agreeable.

Some common factors that parties may consider before settlement can include:

  • The amount the parties think the case is worth,
  • Verdicts and settlements in similar cases,
  • Their chances of winning at trial,
  • The strengths and weaknesses in the case,
  • The amount of insurance coverage, and
  • How much money you have to weather a trial.

For Owen Hart's widow's WWE lawsuit, another factor was likely in play: the potential of unfavorable publicity for the WWE. That's why in many cases that settle, the parties also agree to keep the settlement terms confidential.

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