Author Topic: TNA Suing WWE  (Read 633 times)

Offline RyPrax

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TNA Suing WWE
« on: 30 May 2012, 07:21:48 PM »
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A look at the lawsuit TNA filed last week against World Wrestling Entertainment and Brian Wittenstein provides deeper insight into exactly what confidential materials TNA alleges that Wittenstein provided to WWE, why they are suing WWE as well as Wittenstein and why the company feels WWE tampered with Ric Flair's TNA deal.
In the 37 page lawsuit filing obtained by PWInsider.com, TNA stated that Wittenstein signed a Severance Agreement with the company in August 2011 (which means that unlike what he claimed to PWInsider, Wittenstein was let go by TNA) where he agreed to a severance package in exchange for returning any company materials and not disclosing confidential TNA information. TNA included a copy of Wittenstein's Severance Agreement in the filing, blacking out only the amount he was paid by the company as severance.

In violation of the Severance Agreement, Wittenstein then allegedly "downloaded and took TNA's confidential, trade secret and proprietary information after leaving his employment with TNA." The lawsuit noted that Wittenstein, in his position as Talent Relations Coordinator, had access to TNA's computer network and proprietary information.

TNA's lawsuit admitted that the company TNA is "uncertain of the full breadth of Wittenstein's "theft and at minimum, the company believes he took documents including "copies of TNA's policies and procedures, a spreadsheet contained personal and confidential information regarding TNA's wrestling talent and staff, a spreadsheet containing the terms of TNA's contracts "with its prospective, present and past wrestling talent", a spreadsheet containing "confidential information regarding activity, payment and royalty reports" for TNA talents, a draft contract between TNA and one of its wrestlers, an executed contract between TNA and one of its wrestlers and a draft promotional agreement between TNA and a licensee.

TNA noted that their Severance Agreement with Wittenstein allowed him to go work for WWE or any other competitor as long as he "complied with his obligations" not to use TNA's material or information.

Instead, Wittenstein sent a memorandum to WWE "summarizing TNA's contracts with its wrestling talent." TNA's filing included an excerpt of Wittenstein's email, where he wrote, "Attached, please find a contract status and terms chart for the TNA Wrestling roster. I combined a bunch of different documents I had from there to put it all in one concise spreadsheet that should capture all the relevant information you would be interested in. Here are a few notes for you regarding the TNA deals."

So, TNA is alleging that every piece of important material relating to their roster's contracts were handed over to their primary competitor, which explains the Unfair Competition aspect of their lawsuit. They believe WWE knows all of their contractual details when it comes to talent and can make moves to out-maneuver TNA when necessary with that information.

Wittenstein's supervisor (possibly Michael Hayes, as he was working as Hayes' assistant, according to PWInsider sources) turned the material over to WWE's legal department. Wittenstein was terminated by WWE in April, having worked there for three months as a "Live Event Booking Assistant", according to his LinkedIn.com profile.

TNA was unaware of the issue until 5/7, when WWE's Vice President of Legal/Business Affairs Scott Amann contacted TNA's General Counsel Creede Williams, informing the company that Wittenstein had divulged TNA information to WWE without WWE's solicitation of the information and they had terminated Wittenstein for that breach. The filing noted that Amann forwarded a copy of TNA's information, which TNA has received in "both hard and electronic form".

TNA alleged in the suit that WWE was in possession of the material for three weeks before contacting them and that when questioned, Amann "did not explain the reason(s) for the delay". In their filing, TNA noted that they contacted Wittenstein, who admitted the disclosure of the information and "represented to TNA that he did so at the request of WWE." TNA believes that WWE "solicited and/or inducted" Wittenstein to provide them with TNA's confidential information and has "unclean hands" in the matter.

The lawsuit filing also claimed that TNA "has reason to believe" that WWE is using the information to "solicit or induce TNA's current wrestling talent to end their contractual relationships with TNA." TNA noted that on 5/9, Ric Flair, described as under exclusive contract to TNA, "attempted to terminate his contractual relationship with TNA" and "made statements" that led TNA to believe he was planning to join WWE. The company noted that Flair's timing to WWE's admission to TNA that they were in possession of TNA's confidential information is "highly suspect" and that Flair was in breach of his TNA deal by not showing for events, including the Sacrifice PPV.

In a later filing, TNA requested two hour depositions with Flair, John Laurinaitis and Paul Levesque (HHH) in regard to the case. The lawsuit makes no reference to Flair appearing at Wrestlemania and the WWE Hall of Fame earlier this year, so that appearance, which TNA signed off on after negotiating with WWE, is not in question in any way, shape or form at this time.

There are no other TNA talents specifically named as being allegedly tampered with by WWE. Obviously, there have been and will be again cases of talent signed to one company sending feelers out and even having secret meetings with other companies.

TNA put up a $30,000 bond to prevent WWE and Wittenstein from using, damaging or copying any confidential material they may have in their possession and the court has demanded all materials be returned prior to a 6/11 hearing on the case in Nashville. TNA filed the lawsuit in Nashville as Wittenstein worked in their corporate offices and agreed when he signed his severance agreement that any issues would be heard in court in TN. Since WWE does business in the State, TNA has stated they have filed the suit there and WWE would be under TN jurisdiction as well.

TNA is suing for interference with existing contracts, conversion, breach of contract, civil conspiracy, unfair competition, and violation of the Tennessee Uniform Trade Secrets Act. They are also suing Wittenstein for breach of duty of loyalty. TNA is seeking reimbursement of payments made to Wittenstein as part of their Severance Agreement as well as it's attorney fees and expenses in bring forth the lawsuit.

They are also seeking a court order to permanently enjoin WWE and Wittenstein from ever disclosing, using or maintaining TNA's confidential material. An injunction was issued demanding that WWE and Wittenstein each return whatever confidential material Wittenstein retained from his time working for TNA. They were specifically instructed not to "destroy" any of the material.

TNA is claiming a civil conspiracy in their lawsuit as WWE and Wittenstein "conspired and agreed" to share confidential, trade secret and proprietary information Wittenstein "wrongfully took" from TNA. They stated that WWE would use and "did use" that information "to solicit and induce TNA's wrestling talent to breach their contracts with TNA and enter into contracts with WWE."

TNA noted that due to Wittenstein and WWE's "misappropriation and/or threatened misappropriation of TNA's trade secrets, TNA will suffer damages, as well as immediate and irreparable harm. TNA has no adequate remedy at law." The lawsuit noted that "money damages cannot adequately compensate TNA, even if Defendants could respond by paying money damage."

The filing noted that TNA was "damaged in an amount in excess of the court's minimal jurisdictional limits" and that the conduct of WWE and Wittenstein "entitles TNA to an award of exemplary damages in an amount in excess of this Court's minimal jurisdictional limit."

Neither WWE nor Wittenstein have officially responded to the court as of this writing.

I don't know what to make of this as we only have one side of the story, but it sounds like this guy "stole" info from TNA and gave it to WWE, but it doesn't sound like WWE solicited it. So I don't understand how it would be WWE's responsibility.

Either way this is depressing. 15 years ago there'd be no lawsuits. And we saw wrestlers and backstage people jump ship on a weekly basis. Wrestling is too corporate these days.


Think I'll have a wank over these tomorrow.

Offline chappers

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #1 on: 30 May 2012, 08:22:40 PM »
TNA will never win this, WWE has David Otunga.

Offline Awesome

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #2 on: 30 May 2012, 09:17:30 PM »
Since WWE were the ones to inform TNA of it in the first place, I would suggest that it is most likely that it is true that WWE didn't solicit any of the information, and that it was all down to the guy who "stole" it.

As for the part about inciting talent to break their contracts with TNA, as it is a big name such as Ric Flair, I would also suggest it likely that it was Flair's own decision to want to break the contract, not that it was suggested by WWE.

Obviously none of us are involved in this and thus have no idea on what really did or didn't happen, but I wouldn't be surprised to see WWE win.
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Offline RyPrax

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #3 on: 30 May 2012, 09:51:32 PM »
TNA will never win this, WWE has David Otunga.

Damnit I should have thought of that.

But ya, I haven't really said anything around here because I know TNA has fans here but things are kinda falling apart there from my perspective. Talent is dropping out of the company like flies, they had a guy claiming he was living off food stamps cause TNA wasn't paying him enough, and they have Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan running the company, because that's obviously worked so well in the past. Seems like they're grasping at straws to excuse their failures and they sound like a child or a bully or something accusing WWE of stealing.  It's like that guy walked out the door with TNA asking him not to give secrets to WWE and he answered "Okay" while giggling.

The funniest thing is that the info would probably be irrelevant to WWE in the first place.


Think I'll have a wank over these tomorrow.

Offline ftwpodcast

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #4 on: 2 June 2012, 09:48:59 PM »
I might be wrong, but I think I read this was moving pretty quickly. Initial court date this week.
Much like you, we talk about wrestling. Just, in podcast form: ftwpodcast.com

Offline RyPrax

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #5 on: 12 June 2012, 03:30:18 PM »
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TNA Wrestling has issued the following statement:

NASHVILLE, Tenn -- TNA Entertainment, LLC President Dixie Carter releases a statement in regard to the recent TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) the company filed against WWE in the Davidson County Circuit Court in Nashville, Tennessee.

TNA President Dixie Carter states, "We were not surprised that the Court originally granted a swift temporary restraining order against WWE to prohibit interference with TNA's contracts and business relationships. I'm pleased that the Court has now replaced that temporary measure with the most recent judicial Order. The Judge's current Order sends a strong message about the importance of TNA protecting its trade secrets. Obviously, the accuracy of what WWE has represented remains important, so I look forward to the discovery process and what is revealed during litigation. As always, we will vigorously protect TNA and its brand from damage at the hands of any and all sources, no matter who is involved."

I really don't understand what's going on ehre.


Think I'll have a wank over these tomorrow.

Offline RyPrax

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #6 on: 13 June 2012, 02:58:41 PM »
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WZ was the first to report last week that there are already possible creative plans being discussed for Ric Flair if he is to come back to WWE once he contractually is able.

WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt recently sent a letter to TNA legal counsel Erika Blonquist. The letter was filed with the court last week and can be read below:

"First, and as I advised you orally on the phone during our recent conference call, WWE has not solicited Ric Flair to leave TNA and enter into a contract with WWE. WWE has made no offer to Flair and has no intention of doing so.

Second, as I also advised you, WWE has not solicited any other current TNA talent to repudiate their contracts and enter into a contract with WWE. WWE has no interest in current TNA talent."

However, now F4Wonline.com is reporting despite this recent statement from WWE's attorney, the belief from many in WWE is Ric Flair will be welcomed back once he is legally able to be signed. Reportedly, WWE officials would love to have him return in time for the 1,000th episode of RAW.

This gets better and more nonsensical by the day. It's as if TNA's lawyers read the dirtsheets and think, "hey we should sue WWE for that too!"

I especially love WWE's response: "we don't want any of your scraps."


Think I'll have a wank over these tomorrow.

Offline Leonardo Lunchbox

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #7 on: 15 June 2012, 12:43:27 AM »
I think this shows the state that TNA is in. They are just grasping at anything to get at WWE in any way possible. You didn't see WCW and WWE suing each other back int he day when talent was jumping back and forth.


Offline RyPrax

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #8 on: 15 June 2012, 05:37:39 AM »
That's because wrestling wasn't corporate then. It was owned by former wrestlers, and fans and sons of wrestlers who couldn't wrestle themselves. They wouldn't know the first thing about suing each other. Today, WWE is a publicly traded corporate entity, and TNA is owned by a large energy company. They have entire firms on retainer. It's really sad and it's hurting the business, especially when WWE has the money to pick up three quarters of the wrestlers out there and then just not use them.


Think I'll have a wank over these tomorrow.

Offline Adampro123

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #9 on: 16 June 2012, 03:19:53 AM »
So not to be the dick here but TL;DR. Can someone sum this up for me? what exactly is going on?  is this a big deal because it doesn't really seem like it.



Offline RyPrax

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #10 on: 16 June 2012, 03:30:06 AM »
Some guy who has head of talent quit TNA to work in WWE as Michael Hayes' assistant, and he gave them a bunch of info on TNA's operations. WWE told TNA he did it and that they wouldn't use it, but TNA is suing them anyway because WWE didn't tell them for 3 weeks. Ric Flair is at the center of it because TNA thinks that the way he quit the company was "suspect" and that WWE had something to do with it.


Think I'll have a wank over these tomorrow.

Offline Adampro123

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #11 on: 16 June 2012, 04:36:55 AM »
That's ridiculous. why sue WWE? I can see them being upset with that guy but WWE obviously told them and wanted to be peaceful with them. If anything sue that guy and if i were WWE i would fire him.

Also why even try to sue WWE? Im sure they can afford a lot better lawyers than anyone in TNA can.lol.



Offline Awesome

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #12 on: 16 June 2012, 03:27:11 PM »
and if i were WWE i would fire him.
They did.

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Wittenstein was terminated by WWE in April, having worked there for three months as a "Live Event Booking Assistant", according to his LinkedIn.com profile.
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Offline RyPrax

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Re: TNA Suing WWE
« Reply #13 on: 16 June 2012, 03:57:25 PM »
WWE did fire him. I think the issue here is that WWE kept the info for three weeks and used it to get Flair out of TNA. I think it's bullshit but that seems like the logic to me. And don't discount TNA's financial power, Panda Energy is actually bigger than WWE and they could theoretically purchase a controlling interest in WWE if they wanted to.


Think I'll have a wank over these tomorrow.