Panini and WWE File Lawsuits Over Trading Card License

There are two new court filings Wednesday, one, Panini v. WWE, and another, WWE v. Panini.

Panini is WWE’s trading card licensee — or at least was until last month anyway.

WWE’s own case, possibly the injunction referred to in Darren Rovell’s tweet, to stop Panini from continuing to sell WWE products, is a motion for leave to file its case under seal.

WWE’s docket:

Panini’s complaint, also filed today in federal court in the Southern District of New York, says it’s suing WWE for terminating their agreement.

Panini’s complaint:

Panini claims in the complaint:

  • WWE and Panini agreed to a deal on March 14, 2022, to produce trading cards and stickers using WWE IP.
  • Panini claims it has performed and fulfilled obligations under the contract.
  • “[W]ith no warning whatsoever” on August 28, 2023, Panini received a letter from WWE (dated August 25), purportedly terminating the deal.
  • Panini claims this is a breach of contract and wants the termination declared invalid.
  • The deal began with a term sheet on October 1, 2021, then they made a four-year agreement on March 14, 2022, making the deal retroactively effective January 1, 2022, and to end in 2025.
  • Panini launched the “WWE Prizm” trading card set in April 2022 and stickers the next month. There were digital and physical trading cards. Panini used WWE cards for “Box Wars” or “Pack Wars” games played at conventions.
  • Panini says WWE never raised any issues with Panini’s performance, accepted royalty payments, and “praised Panini for tripling the business.”
  • WWE allegedly suddenly terminated the deal, purportedly under a provision of the contract giving WWE the right to terminate if Panini “did not engage in good faith efforts” to make WWE physical trading card games and digital trading cards.
  • WWE allegedly demanded Panini immediately pay WWE $5,625,000, the minimum royalties due under the contract.
  • Panini claims the window to terminate under the provision was between April 1 and June 1, 2022, which has passed.
  • Panini wants declarations: that it hasn’t breached the contract, that WWE’s termination is invalid, that the contract remains in effect, and that it doesn’t have to pay the $5,625,000 WWE claims is immediately due.

Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also worked as an independent wrestler and trainer.

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