Wrestlers get to grips with winos -- but will they get a SmackDown?

The IPKat thanks his old friend Miri Frankel (Beanstalk) for drawing his attention to an instance of a litigious trade mark owner intent quite literally on getting to grips with its adversary. The litigant in question is none other than World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (WWE), which has taken exception to the apparently quite unexceptionable activities of a wine school. The story is taken up by the National Law Journal here:
"... WWE is opposing the Philadelphia Wine School's attempt to register the name Sommelier Smackdown for the food and wine pairing competitions it has held since 2007. The WWE's "SmackDown" program has aired on television since 1999.
"The WWE has been the registered owner of the trademark SmackDown for entertainment purposes for many, many years," said K&L Gates partner Jerry McDevitt, who represents the WWE. "We sent a letter saying, 'Guess what, you can't use that.' "
Philadelphia Wine School owner Keith Wallace said that he received the WWE's cease-and-desist letter in September. He has no intention of backing off the Sommelier Smackdown name, however.
"How pathetic is that?" Wallace said. "That's what I was thinking. This is just a standard bully tactic. It's impossible for them to claim that smackdown is not a generic term."
Wallace saw little chance that anyone would confuse his event, in which a well-known sommelier competes against a member of the wine school staff to create the best food and wine pairings, with the WWE program in which professional wrestlers offer up body slams and full nelsons to cheering crowds.
McDevitt insisted the Sommelier Smackdown name is a "blatant rip-off" of the WWE's trademark and that the wine school is using the Smackdown name to grab attention at the expense of the wrestling entity.
Wallace plans to fight the WWE for as long as he can without breaking the bank.
"I have a staff of five," Wallace said. "If I have to choose between fighting the WWE or paying my staff's health care, I'm going with the staff's health care."...".
The IPKat says, the WWE is better known to Europeans under its former name, World Wrestling Federation, in which guise it vigorously contested the use of the acronym 'WWF' with a cuddly, panda-friendly body then known as the World Wildlife Fund. Merpel says, given the fact that professional wrestling bouts are fixed, would it be unreasonable for the WWE to expect a fair trial?

Background to the WWE here.
More on SmackDown here.
Buy tickets to the Sommelier Smackdown here.
Wrestling in mud, oil and Lithuanian honey
Wrestlers get to grips with winos -- but will they get a SmackDown? Wrestlers get to grips with winos -- but will they get a SmackDown? Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, October 16, 2009 Rating: 5

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