The WWE is known for giving its superstars ring names that people within the company come up with.
The idea behind this is that the WWE will then copyright or trademark those ring names and thus be able to make money off them. It works out well for the WWE because the company will own the rights to the name and have the ability to profit off it even after that superstar bolts the company.
As great as it is for the WWE, however, it puts former WWE stars in a tough situation. If they bolt the company and can’t take their ring name with them—which made them famous—it forces them to come up with something else that people will recognize.
In some cases, though, the alterations to those ring names (or lack thereof) can result in some potential legal issues with the WWE.
Just like they may do in the near future.
There are several former WWE names booked on the World Wrestling Fan Xperience’s tour of Manila on February 2, 2012.
In addition to the already reported John Morrison (who will be working as John Hennigan), the following names are advertised:
Carlito, working as Carlitos
Chris Masters, working as Chris Master
Luke Gallows, working a Luke Gallow
MVP, Melina, Shelton Benjamin and Rhyno.
You can view video promos at this link.
While the names are obviously being changed due to WWE trademark conflicts, I’m not sure the shortening of names is legal. It seems WWE could dispute the names as “confusingly similar” to their trademarks. Furthermore, WWE still owns the rights to MVP, however, they’ve let him use it internationally.
Wow, guys. Couldn’t you have come up with something a little more creative?
While I could care less about these guys using names similar to the ones that most fans know them by, most people within the WWE won’t take that stance. We’ve seen numerous disputes between the WWE and former talent in the past (such as Ultimate Warrior) stemming from this very issue, and company officials usually aren’t too thrilled if someone takes money out of the WWE’s pocket.
Will this situation in result in legal issues down the road?
Realistically, the WWE has the rights to most of its superstars’ names, and it doesn’t seem like they’d be able to simply change one letter and get away with it.
That would be like Bleacher Report owning the rights to the name “Drake Oz,” and then me leaving the company and going to write for another site as “Drake Ozz.”
That’s only a hypothetical situation, but you get the point.
Carlito, Luke Gallows and Chris Masters look like they may be getting themselves in some serious hot water with the WWE and its legal team.
If I were the WWE, I’d just get over it. However, we know the chances of that happening are slim to none.