The wrestling battle for the wildlife: World Wide Fund versus World Wrestling Federation

Until 2001, World Wide Fund and World Wrestling Federation shared the WWF initials, but it was the breach of agreement by World Wrestling Federation that has eventually led to forced rebranding to World Wrestling Entertainment.

By

Jan Buza

Since 1979, the initials WWF were shared by both World Wide Fund and World Wrestling Federation that have acquired registered trademarks for their respective logos and names [1]. With the goal of reducing the level of consumer confusion, an agreement was reached between these two organisations in 1994 limiting the international use of the WWF initials [2]. The breach of this agreement has resulted in the infringement lawsuit led by the World Wide Fund that has resulted in the ruling preventing World Wrestling Federation from using its initials [1]. From 2002, World Wrestling Federation has rebranded itself into World Wrestling Entertainment. The damages sought by the World Wide Fund in excess of £360 million were not upheld by the court [1]. Furthermore, the petition raised by the World Wrestling Entertainment in 2003 has allowed it to use the WWF logo on some of its pre-existing products [2]. With the exception of these products, it is the World Wide Fund that is currently the sole company allowed to use WWF initials in its trademark.

This case illustrates the importance of a comprehensive analysis at the point of creating a brand name that can save time, effort and money associated with infringement lawsuits and rebranding efforts. Team Trama is here to help you along the way so please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you need any further advice about optimal trademark and brand protection strategy.

[1] The Guardian (2002), “Wildlife charity wins battle of the WWF brands”, The Guardian, available from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2002/feb/27/charitieslaw.charities1

[2] Sandomir, R. (2002), “Wildlife Fund takes down wrestlers in name game”, The New York Times, available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/07/sports/sports-business-wildlife-fund-takes-down-wrestlers-in-name-game.html

Jan Buza

Jan Buza

Product Mind

Helped scale portfolio firms for a VC fund

CEMS Prague

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