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THQ Plans To Extend WWE Licensing Agreement

THQ Plans To Extend WWE Licensing Agreement

October 28, 2009 | By Kris Graft

October 28, 2009 | By Kris Graft
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A rep for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw publisher THQ told Gamasutra Wednesday that despite its delay in extending its pro wrestling licensing contract with WWE, it does intend to eventually renew the deal.

"We have the option to extend our video game relationship with the WWE through 2014 and we plan to do so," said THQ VP of investor relations and corporate communications Julie MacMedan in an email.

THQ announced Wedneday morning that WWE extended the renewal notice deadline for the wrestling video game license held by the joint venture between THQ and toymaker Jakks Pacific. The joint venture now has until December 31, 2009 to renew the licensing contract. A renewal of the license would extend the deal through December 31, 2014.

While THQ said that it plans on extending the wrestling video game contract with the WWE, it's still unclear whether Jakks Pacific will be part of the renewed deal.

THQ, Jakks, and WWE have often found themselves at legal odds with one another. THQ recently won a long-running royalty suit against Jakks, and all three companies were once embroiled in a bribery suit brought to court by WWE.

Most recently in June, THQ filed suit against Jakks for making the unilateral decision to extend the WWE contract. "The legal actions filed in late June of this year between THQ and Jakks are still in progress," MacMedan added.

Video game analyst Michael Pachter said in a research note that the deadline extension gives THQ more time to "settle its dispute with Jakks" before signing on for another five years. He added, "It's pretty clear to us that WWE doesn't want to deal with Jakks any more, and neither does THQ."

Pachter continued, "The alternatives are to keep the deal as is for another five years (THQ and WWE unhappy, Jakks happy), terminate the JV and have no WWE games for a year (THQ and WWE unhappy, JAKKS neutral), or pay Jakks something to go away (THQ and WWE slightly upset, but happy about being able to deal with one another without Jakks, and Jakks happy)."

"We think that the third alternative is most likely, and expect THQ to make it happen in the next two months."

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