- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 8, 2002

The warm and fuzzy have whupped the big and brawny.
The planet has room for only one WWF, and it belongs to the World Wildlife Fund rather than the World Wrestling Federation. The animal rights and conservation group beat the grapplers in a court battle over three little letters that apparently spell big recognition.
As of last night, the Connecticut-based wrestling group backed off and became World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., putting "the emphasis on 'e' for entertainment, what our company does best," noted spokeswoman Linda McMahon.
It may not be enough, though.
"The WWF was expecting that [the wrestling group] would opt for a more distinct name change that would put 'clear water' between our two organizations," said Paul Steele, World Wildlife Fund International's chief executive. "We are still considering the implications of this move from the wrestlers."
The fund has come out snarling in the past, taking the wrestlers to court twice in the last four years, seeking to limit their access to "WWF," an acronym the wildlife group has used to promote conservation since its founding in 1961.
The wrestlers appealed, but the wildlife guys went on snarling irked that their symbol was used to promote grunting gladiators rather than wetlands and bird habitats. "The Federation's breaches diluted and tarnished WWF's identity and the messages associated with it," the wildlife group said in a statement issued yesterday.
But they were not beyond a victorious display, adding, "WWF has already notched up two court wins over the wrestlers."
The wildlife guys are playing hardball elsewhere as well.
In late April, the organization formed a Britain-based "National Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit," intent on pursuing the hoity-toity buyers and sellers of shahtoosh an illegal, delicate shawl made from the chin fuzz of a tiny, endangered Tibetan antelope, and favored by a certain class of status-conscious females.
The new intelligence unit, said spokesman Stuart Chapman, "is a big step toward cracking wildlife crime."
Meanwhile, the loss of the letter "f" is no small deal to the former World Wrestling Federation. The group has a massive consumer presence in 130 countries, with hundreds of wearables, toys, books and other goodies bearing the old logo. All will be reconfigured.
The group took in $456 million in revenue last year and recognition of its "global brand" has expanded, they say, by 363 percent. They have also trademarked as "intellectual property" the monikers of their wrestling superstars from "Justin Credible" to "Mighty Molly," and of course, "The Rock."
The World Wildlife Fund is no slouch in the recognition arena either.
It is the largest international conservation organization in the world, with more than a million members in the United States alone. In 40 years, the group has "invested" in more than 13,100 projects in 157 countries.
The courts supported the fund's bid to preserve its old WWF identity. The wrestlers are now the "WWE."
"New logo art has been provided to business partners, licensees and vendors," Mrs. McMahon said, adding that the big changeover would be complete in about five months.
"WWE provides us with a global identity which is distinct and unencumbered," she said.


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