WWE seeks dismissal of MLW’s antitrust lawsuit, claiming that it failed to allege antitrust claims for monopolization or attempted monopolization.
WWE has moved to dismiss the amended lawsuit filed against it by Major League Wrestling, alleging that MLW failed to allege antitrust claims for monopolisation or attempted monopolisation. On March 6, MLW filed the amended lawsuit against WWE claiming that it violated the Sherman Antitrust Act because the US market for pro wrestling media content is dominated by WWE, which receives 92% of the revenue related to the market.
In its response, WWE argued that if it ceased operations, other wrestling companies wouldn’t necessarily gain all the revenue that WWE once received. It also alleged that MLW failed to allege any harm to competition at large.
Separate from the antitrust claims, MLW also raised California state law claims for intentional interference with contractual relations, intentional interference with prospective economic relations, and a violation of the UCL. WWE has asked that those claims be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, as the allegations in the amended complaint are unchanged from the original complaint.
MLW’s lawsuit alleged that WWE has a dangerous probability of obtaining monopoly power and that it had foreclosed MLW from the “key” or “favored” networks and streaming services, which are the direct customers for wrestling media rights.
WWE responded that even if the court accepts MLW’s definition of a narrow market around professional wrestling shows, MLW lacks any non-conclusory allegations that WWE wields market or monopoly power over the hundreds of networks and streaming services with which it has no commercial relationships.
MLW also questioned WWE’s ownership of talent-related intellectual property, but WWE argued that a federal district court has already ruled that its ownership interest in the characters delineated on its television product is as legitimate as DC’s ownership interest in Superman. The case continues, and it remains to be seen how the court will rule.