Lucha Libre FMV is suing Promociones Antonio Pena in California court. That’s a confusing sentence. A company representing Alex Garcia, Antonio Cue, John Fogelman are suing a company owned by Dorian Roldan and Marisela Pena, claiming they own the rights to any money AAA makes outside the borders of Mexico. It is potentially severely damaging to AAA’s ability to continue to do business.
I’m not a lawyer, I’m just trying to read and make sense of this. The crux of the argument
- There are three entities.
- Promociones Antonio Pena is the actual Mexican lucha libre promotion, owned completely by Dorian Roldan and Marisela Pena
- Lucha Libre AAA is a company holding the trademark rights. It was formed by Roldan & Pena, and Alex Garcia & Antonio Cue became outside investors and co-owners at some point.
- Lucha Libre FMV (another layer to the onion) is owned jointly by Lucha Libre AAA and FactoryMade Ventures (that’s where John Fogelman comes in)
- Lucha Libre FMV was at first licensing the rights to the AAA trademarks.
- Lucha Libre FMV hit “contractual milestones in 2014”, which caused them to switch from borrowing the trademarks for a certain time and to Lucha Libre FMV owning all Lucha Libre AAA trademarks (current and future) for all time.
- Everything AAA has or will ever create is owned by Lucha Libre FMV according to this lawsuit, except for a carveout to allow PAP to continue to use those trademarks in Mexico. Usage in any other country belongs exclusively to FMV.
- The lawsuit includes both the licensing and reassignment documents, with all the signatures you’d expect.
- It’s not clear what those milestones are, though safe bet they had to do with the creation of Lucha Underground.
- Lucha Libre FMV says they’ve paid PAP $700K for those rights so far.
- The IP agreement says PAP is owed 5% of the Lucha Libre FMV profits, and later a minimum year guarantee. If I’m adding up the minimum correctly, PAP should’ve gotten $1.05 mil by the end of 2020. Maybe I’m not adding it up correctly?
Factory Made says they’ve been looking at selling Lucha Libre FMV (no more info there), and they were stunned to find out both the internet exists and that AAA has been on it for some time. The complaint says FactoryMade “discovered” deals Roldan had made. It’s unclear how they discovered deals they wouldn’t be involved in, but the claims are (all numbers USD)
- Twitch paid AAA a minimum of $650K against a revenue share
- Facebook paid AAA a minimum of $500K against a revenue share
- Turner (Space) paid AAA a license fee of $300K
- PlutoTV paid AAA $250K against a revenue share
- YouTube has paid AAA an unknown amount
(A revenue share would be a downside guarantee; AAA could’ve gotten more if they met ad targets. Factory Made seems to be unsure if they did. There’s no length along with these deals, just the idea these were the numbers through June of 2019.)
Lucha Libre FMV is arguing these are worldwide deals, and so all proceeds should be going in their checkbook. Dorian Roldan argued that the money was mostly generated from Mexico, and so only a small portion goes to Lucha Libre FMV. (The bigger issue, if Lucha Libre FMV is indeed trying to sell their AAA trademarks, is selling those rights becomes less attractive if someone’s already using them.) Lucha Libre FMV says they and AAA were working through this, only for Lucha Libre FMV to be stunned to find out about the Marvel deal. They considered that another violation.
The timeline from there seems to be
- (previous issues before this date)
- October 26: AAA announced Marvel deal
- October 28: Dorian Roldan quits Lucha Libre FMV, where has been the General Manager
- November 4: Dorian Roldan sends Lucha Libre FMV a note promising PAP to pay $391,719 to Lucha Libre FMV over the next five years
- November 9: Dorian Roldan tells Lucha Libre FMV that’s their cut of the Facebook/Turner/Pluto/Twitch money
- November 13: Dorian Roldan sends $31,719 to Lucha Libre FMV as the first installment. Lucha Libre FMV refuses to settle for this amount of money but takes Roldan’s actions as proof PAP admits to violating their deal.
- December 8: this suit is filed
Lucha Libre FMV is looking for all the money from the agreements (at least $2.5 million), statuary damages, and lawyer’s fees. They’re also looking for a restraining order. (In theory, that’d mean suspending YouTube and Facebook pages but I wouldn’t worry about that yet – more like FMV is just going to get any revenue if they get its way.)
Notably, the AAA in US events do not come up at all. I presume that means Lucha Libre FMV was properly compensated (got all their money). The FMV figures – Garcia, Cue, Fogleman – were part of the press conference for the eventually canceled Los Angeles show, so obviously they were at least a part of that deal.
I wonder if Penta and Fenix switching their names in AEW are connected to this lawsuit, since “Pentagon Jr.” and “Fenix” are among those being argued about; if someone tipped them off to the problems, it’d be a great time to get away from this mess. There is a hard irony here about AAA having an earned reputation for taking control of wrestler’s names, only to lose the rights to those and their own to someone else (albeit outside of Mexico.)
My hunch is this gets settled in some way; FMV isn’t getting all the money they want, for more than AAA is giving them right now, and maybe AAA buys their trademarks back in the process. But I didn’t pass any bar exam, so I can’t say how this’ll turn out. That FMV was as far as filing a lawsuit suggests they haven’t come close to arriving at whatever that midpoint number is going to be.