2003 News

English Court Repudiates World Wide Fund for Nature; Ends Legal Block To Sale of THQ/Jakks WWE Videogames
April 17, 2003
Stamford, Conn., April 17, 2003 - The Court of Appeals in England has ruled that certain classic videogames of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE™) performers can be sold by THQ/Jakks, a blow to efforts by the World Wide Fund for Nature and the affiliated U.S. World Wildlife Fund which had stopped the sale of the games through lower court legal action.

In an order issued on April 7, 2003, the Court of Appeals of England reversed a decision obtained by the international Fund and the affiliated U.S. Fund (The Funds) from the High Court of Justice which blocked the sale of certain classic videogames of WWE performers sold by THQ/Jakks because they contained the old scratch logo.

World Wrestling Federation®, in May 2002, changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment and modified its scratch logo to reflect the name change in an effort to end more than a decade of harassment by The Funds. The Funds then successfully moved to stop the sale of video games originated before the name change that contained the old scratch logo.

“Prior to the Christmas sale season, The Funds attempted to extort $90 million dollars from the WWE and threatened to interfere with WWE’s business relationships, as it has been doing for over a decade, if WWE did not submit to their extortion,” said WWE attorney, Jerry McDevitt, partner in the law firm of Kirkpatick and Lockhart.

According to McDevitt, when the WWE refused to submit to their demands, The Funds resorted to heavy handed practices such as threatening to have WWE declared in contempt of the English courts for disclosing the $90 million demand and threatening to sue the WWE and its attorney in England for pointing out that The Funds’ extortion demand had been made by Michael Rogers, an English barrister with an extremely questionable past.

“After threatening to sue us and have us thrown in English jails for telling the truth about Rogers and The Funds, they next threatened to have THQ/Jakks, the WWE’s videogame licensee, held in contempt of the English courts if THQ/Jakks sold certain classic videogames of WWE performers because the gameplay had the former WWF scratch logo of my client embedded in the gameplay,” said McDevitt.

Around Thanksgiving, The Funds actually convinced a judge in England to stop the sales of the games and declare that THQ/Jakks and WWE would be in contempt of court if the games were sold. “The Fund did that in a proceeding we were not even a party to and sale of the games stopped,” said McDevitt.

THQ/Jakks appealed the decision and WWE intervened in the appeal. After hearing the argument, a three-judge panel reversed the trial judge, repudiated all of The Funds’ arguments, and ordered The Funds to pay the legal costs of both THQ/Jakks and the WWE, an amount likely to exceed $100,000.

Commenting on the decision, McDevitt noted that the Court of Appeals of England expressly stated that The Funds had not shown any damage whatsoever caused them by the sale of videogames and that The Funds did not have exclusive rights to the initials “WWF.” “We have said all along that The Funds have not, and could not, be damaged by anything my client has ever done, and it is a matter of record that The Funds have never come forth with proof of any monetary damage,” said McDevitt.

Linda McMahon, CEO of WWE, stated “We never understood why these environmental groups have harassed us for years until we received their $90 million demand made under threat of harm to our business. We have never done a thing to damage them, but they have done nothing but try to damage us and most recently threatened harm if we didn’t pay the $90 million, which we refused to do. Now, they will have to pay what looks to be in excess of $100,000 in legal fees caused by this latest episode, no doubt from monies raised from the public for other purposes. I hope that a voice of reason will arise among the leaders of the international and U.S. Funds, and that they will see to it that this unfair harassment of WWE ends once and for all.”

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