A vital part of developing your brand is securing trademark protection. A unique name or symbol, for example, can distinguish your company from another, as consumers correlate a particular product with its source – preferably, your business.

If you question the importance of intellectual property (IP) protection, consider what a trademark could be worth to your entity. Regardless of your industry, you are likely familiar with some of the world’s most valuable trademarks.

Name recognition may increase trademark value

When filing for Google’s initial public offering, questions arose surrounding whether its “search” synonym could be harmful either in minimized brand value or the loss of IP protection. Now, as the world’s most popular search engine, Google holds a trademark value above $44 billion.

Meanwhile, some companies lack a clear determination of their rights. In some cases, securing an acquisition with full brand name rights may not go as planned.

Since when do professional wrestlers worry about intellectual property?

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) essentially provides sports-related theater performances to its fans. After a five-year working relationship, WWE recently acquired Evolve Wrestling from the World Wrestling Network (WWN).

The deal included an agreement to transfer full rights of the Evolve name to WWE, as well as those of previously recorded footage. Therefore, you might think sufficient IP protection was in effect for the program. However, a recent decision by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) indicates otherwise.

Previous application denial could affect current ownership

WWN filed a trademark application for Evolve last November. Although the USPTO rejected the proposed IP application because of an alleged disconnect between the trademark and the company’s goods and services, reports suggest the WWN did not follow through with a response, thereby potentially leaving their brand unprotected.

This oversight could be increasingly problematic for WWE since the USPTO also refused the new owner’s request to protect their rights to the program because of potential confusion with the name of an existing trademark in the adult entertainment industry.

Rights ought not be in question

As it stands, the footage sold to WWE is scheduled to be removed from WWN’s network this month. Yet, while WWE uploads their acquired video library, would they have the right to claim trademark infringement if the previous network kept running those same shows?

One cannot predict whether WWE will win their fight and secure trademark rights to Evolve. However, this case shows how disputes can arise when a brand’s protection is in question; it’s not uncommon for companies to wrestle over claims surrounding their potential profitability.