AEW Star Wrestles With Mask Designer In Court Over Branded Merchandise
AEW wrestler Luchasaurus, also known as Austin Matelson in normal life, is known for wearing a dinosaur mask in the ring.
Now that he's getting some acclaim as the cold-blooded wrestling star, it makes sense that he and AEW would want to sell some merchandise featuring his likeness. But, the company that made his mask, Composite Effects LLC (CFX), disagrees, and is filing a suit against AEW and Matelson, claiming that the mask is theirs, and that thew two parties are making money off of it without their permission.
According to 411 Mania, CFX filed a suit in December claiming that Matelson "was entitled to use the mask in events as a wrestler, but neither he nor anyone acting on his behalf was entitled to create merchandise that incorporates the mask design."
This puts Matelson in a tough spot. After so much marketing around your ring persona, do you scrap it and start over? There's the whole idea of a face turn in wrestling, but this is ridiculous.
The mask had gone through a few different iterations, with CFX working with Matelson to add horns and other little adjustments since 2016. CFX reportedly discussed making a new mask that AEW bought the rights to, but that mask "was not used much, if at all."
In an email provided by CFX, Matelson thanked the company for the mask, but didn't think it was a good fit, saying, "my current mask is just too iconic at this point and we can't change the face."
CFX is seeking profits AEW has made from merchandise featuring the mask, in addition to other damages and attorney's fees.
In wrestling terms, Matelson is in a tough hold right now. The emails showing he preferred his current mask certainly were a steel chair to the back. Whether or not he's down for the full 10-count, and will need to readjust his image (I wish I hadn't already used that face-turn pun) remain to be seen.
More than anything, this is a good lesson for merchandisers that even if they feel they have ownership of something, and are looking to incorporate the design into their products, you need to be absolutely sure. Heck, Adidas and Thom Browne are currently wrestling it out to see whether Adidas can claim ownership of horizontal stripes.