WWE Facing Bloody Battle Over Vampire TrademarkMon Feb 18, 2008 @ 10:54AM PST
Posted by Matthew Heller
If a copyright suit involving video-game zombies isn't scary enough, now we have a trademark case involving a vampire named "Gangrel" to sink our teeth into.
According to this complaint filed in Atlanta, role-playing game developer White Wolf created the Gangrel clan of bloodsuckers as part of its "Vampire: The Masquerade" game. In 1998, it licensed the mark for five years with an option to renew so World Wrestling Entertainment could promote wrestler David Heath as a vampire named "Gangrel." As part of the gimmick, he would enter the arena with a goblet of "blood" and, as he reached the ring steps, drink from it and spray its gory contents into the air.
White Wolf now alleges that since the license expired in 2003, WWE has refused to renew the rights but has continued to feature Heath as Gangrel in numerous wrestling events, including last year's "15th Anniversary Special" of WWE Raw. The promoters have claimed fair use but White Wolf says WWE has "willfully and deliberately infringed" on its rights.
We can't predict how bloody the litigation will be, but we can say that Steven Kushner of Fellows LaBriola in Atlanta is representing White Wolf's Icelandic parent company CCP and that a fan site describes the Gangrels as "nomadic loners [who] spurn the constraints of society, preferring the comfort of the wilderness."
WWE.com reported in January 2007 that it had released Heath who, apparently welcoming the constraints of English society, has moved to Liverpool where he lives with his wife, retired WWE diva Gertrude (Luna) Vachon.