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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Wrestling body submits to name change
wrestling, WWE
The charity disliked association with wrestling
The World Wrestling Federation has thrown in the towel in its grapple with a leading nature charity.

The US-based federation conceded defeat in the fight with the World Wide Fund for Nature over the right to use the initials WWF.

Now the wrestling organisation - famous for its stars such as Hulk Hogan and The Rock - will be known as World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE.

We are still considering the implications of this move from the wrestlers

Paul Steele, WWF
But the contest might not be over with the British wildlife charity still not happy that the new initials mark enough of a difference between the two bodies.

The World Wide Fund for Nature has fought a long legal battle for sole use of the WWF initials.

It first registered the initials as a trademark in 1961, when it was founded as the World Wildlife Fund.

Challenge dismissed

Despite changing its name in 1989 to World Wide Fund for Nature, the charity kept the WWF initials along with the famous panda symbol in advertising campaigns worldwide.

It took legal action against the federation to protect its global brand and reputation from what it called any "unsavoury" connection with professional wrestling.

Trademark logo of WWF
The victor: The charity's logo features a panda
A challenge by the federation against the charity's injunction was dismissed in February by the Court of Appeal forcing it to keep to the strict terms of a 1994 settlement.

This imposed a severe restriction on use of the initials in the federation's business activities.

The federation struck back with an appeal, but when now this has been withdrawn, the World Wide Fund for Nature has claimed victory.

Our new name puts the emphasis on the 'E' for entertainment

Linda McMahon, WWE

But the battle may not be over, with the charity still threatening possible legal action as it does not feel the name is significantly different.

Paul Steele, chief operating officer, said: "We were expecting that they would opt for a more distinct name change that would put 'clear water' between the two organisations, to quote one of the judges at the recent court action.

Costly change

"We are still considering the implications of this move from the wrestlers."

On its website, the renamed wrestling organisation's chief executive officer Linda McMahon said: "Our new name puts the emphasis on the 'E' for entertainment, what our company does best."

The name change is expected to cost the wrestling group tens of millions of dollars, and will involve merchandise being rebranded and the name of its entertainment complex in New York's Time Square being changed from WWF New York to The World.

Ms McMahon said the company had taken the decision in the light of the animal charity's court victory in the UK.

She said the federation hoped the name change would satisfy the WWF that there was no association between the two.

"We will utilise this opportunity to position ourselves emphasising the entertainment aspect of our company, and, at the same time, allay the concerns of the fund," she said.

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