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  Tuesday, May 7, 2002

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WWF responds to name change

LONDON, England -- News that the World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc has changed their name and logo in light of recent court action has been received with surprise by the World Wildlife Fund, the conservation organization. This unilateral move comes when an application to appeal to the House of Lords by the wrestling federation is still pending.

Yesterday, the World Wrestling Federation announced that it was changing its name to World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., as well as altering its scratch logo and Web site domain name - both of which were subject to the case brought by the World Wildlife Fund.

Paul Steele, Chief Operating Officer for World Wildlife Fund International said: "The fact that the wrestlers have taken this action is an acknowledgement that the proposed appeal has little chance of success. However, the World Wildlife Fund was expecting that they would opt for a more distinct name change that would put 'clear water' between our two organizations, to quote one of the judges in the recent court action. We are still considering the implications of this move from the wrestling federation."

The World Wildlife Fund has already notched up two court wins over the American wrestling federation. In February, the Court of Appeal in London rejected the World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc.'s appeal against the summary judgement handed down on 10th August 2001. In rejecting the World Wrestling Federation's appeal the Court of Appeal upheld a 1994 agreement between the two organizations limiting the wrestling federation's use of the initials "WWF". The decision confirmed the validity of the agreement, which was negotiated freely and fairly between the organizations.

The World Wildlife Fund claims that the World Wrestling Federation had breached the 1994 Agreement thousands of times, using the initials on its merchandise, on its website and in other ways.

The World Wildlife Fund brought this action against the World Wrestling Federation for the same reasons as it entered into the 1994 Agreement: its identity, through the "WWF" initials, is crucial to its ability to achieve its mission. For example, the World Wildlife Fund's campaign to educate the world as to the need to slow the degradation of the earth's natural environment relies on the public's recognition and trust of a respected, global conservation organization. The World Wildlife Fund believes that the federation's breaches of the 1994 Agreement diluted and tarnished the World Wildlife Fund's identity and the messages associated with it. Unfortunately, the World Wildlife Fund's repeated requests all failed to convince the wrestling federation to abide by the Agreement that it freely negotiated and signed, and the World Wildlife Fund was forced to bring the action.

-- SLAM! Wrestling News Wire.

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