Wrestlers concede defeat in domain name fight

United Kingdom

In the final chapter to the saga regarding use of the acronym 'WWF', the World Wrestling Federation has changed its company name to World Wrestling Entertainment Inc and its domain name to 'wwe.com', leaving the domain name 'wwf.com' for the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly the World Wildlife Fund).

The wrestling company began operating a website at 'wwf.com' in 1997 and, as a result, the nature fund commenced proceedings in the United Kingdom for breach of a 1994 settlement agreement which had severely curtailed the company's use of the initials but did not specifically mention the Internet. The court granted summary judgment for the fund, holding that the wrestling company had no real prospect of successfully defending its claim (see World Wide Fund for Nature wrestles for domain name).

On appeal in World Wide Fund for Nature v World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, [2002] EWCA Civ 196, the Court of Appeal held that the relevant terms of the 1994 agreement were not an unreasonable restraint of trade, and held that the wrestling company's use of the website www.wwf.com breached the agreement.

Although the company had applied for leave to appeal to the House of Lords (see Wrestlers take WWF fight to House of Lords), it recently announced that it has changed its company name to World Wrestling Entertainment Inc and its website to www.wwe.com. In keeping with the company's style, it is promoting its re-branding by selling t-shirts online featuring the slogan "Get the 'F' out".

Nadine Courmadias, Willoughby & Partners, London

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