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Conservationists Beat Pro Wrestlers for Rights to WWF Name

10 Aug, 2001 By: Hive News

In the wrestling ring it would be no match, but in court it was another story.

The World Wildlife Fund, best known for its efforts to protect the giant panda and other endangered animal species, won a judgmentFriday against World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. over the use of the initials WWF, according to the Associated Press.

The decision will hamper the wrestling group's ability to promote itself, and force it to change its Web address, the AP said.

Responding to the decision in a press statement, the Stamford, Conn.-based World Wrestling FederationEntertainment, Inc. said: "We are pleased that the judge agreed with our position that the World Wildlife Fund has acted to restrain our rights to trade.

"However, we are disappointed that the judge accepted the Fund's justifications for these restraints without affording us a full trial and the right to question the Fund on its need for these restrictions.

"We do not believe that the Fund has, in any way, demonstrated that our use of the initials WWF has had any impact on the Fund's activities. We do not believe there is confusion in the public's mind between the World Wrestling Federation and the World Wildlife Fund and the logos of the twoorganizations.

"For these reasons, it is our intent to appeal the judge's decision," concluded the statement.

Justice Robin Jacob ruled that the wrestling group had breached a 1994 agreement between the two sides that limited its use of theinitials.

Jacob acknowledged it could cost the federation, famous for The Rock and Undertaker, up to $50 million to change its logo, but said some of its arguments were weak.

The two sides had almost identical Web siteaddresses.

While the wildlife fund filed a lawsuit seeking enforcement of its trademark rights, Jacob said the wresting organization will be permitted limited use of the initials in the United States,but will no longer be able to use its wwf.com Web site address. The wildlife group has wwf.org.

A court session was set for October to determine costs and damages to be awarded.

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