22 March 2019Trademarks

WWE in trademark rumble with independent wrestler

US-based entertainment company  World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has opposed a trademark application by an independent wrestler, Tatevik Hunanyan.

The  opposition, filed on Tuesday, March 19 at the US Patent and Trademark Office claimed that Hunanyan could not secure the trademark ‘Sister Abigail’ for use in professional wrestling, because she did not create the Sister Abigail character.

WWE said it owns common law trademark rights to the mark after it created the Sister Abigail character and used it in connection with four performances.

A common law trademark is an unregistered but enforceable mark used to protect IP before it is officially registered. In the US, the common law trademark starts when the mark is used in commerce for the first time.

The company said the applied-for mark was “identical in sight, sound and commercial meaning” to its own trademark, and granting Hunanyan the registration would likely cause confusion amongst its consumers.

“The Sister Abigail mark is uniquely and exclusively associated with WWE and has become indelibly linked in the public’s mind in exclusive association with and in exclusive sponsorship by WWE,” the notice said.

In its opposition, WWE alleged that Hunanyan was an extra for WWE in 2016 and 2017 and “expressed a desire to portray the Sister Abigail character”.

After not portraying the character, Hunanyan was “now attempting to usurp WWE’s IP” by filing the trademark registration, WWE said.

WWE also said its use of Sister Abigail “predates any date of first use” which Hunanyan could rely on in her application.

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