Lost Angeles Times Newspaper

Rasslers ready to stomp on wine snoots

Author: JOE FLINT

Vince McMahon doesn’t want anyone thinking his wrestling superstars are a bunch of wine-tasting wimps.
McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. has told the American Wine Foundation, owner of the Wine School of Philadelphia with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, that it is infringing on its copyright by calling one of its wine classes “Sommelier Smackdown.” As any WWE fan knows, “Smackdown” is the name of one of its most popular franchises.

In a letter to the Wine School of Philadelphia, the WWE told the wine sippers that its use of the word “smackdown” is “likely to create consumer confusion as to WWE’s affiliation, sponsorship and/or approval” of the class. Yes, because we all know how similar wine snobs are to wrestling fanatics.
American Wine Foundation President Keith Wallace knows he’s outgunned, but he’s still going to try to go a few rounds with the WWE.

“We can’t go toe to toe with this national multicorporation,” says Wallace, who does think he has a case. “Smackdown is not a term they can protect. … ‘Sommelier Smackdown’ is clearly a parody. It’s just a big company trying to bully a small firm.”

Wallace notes that WWE has hundreds of employees, “and I have five.”

A WWE spokesman says it went after American Wine Foundation only after the foundation tried to file a trademark application for “Sommelier Smackdown.”

“It’s not us going after piddly little Joe Blow here,” the spokesman said. “We do own the trademark, and we created the term ‘Smackdown.’ ”

 

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