WWE recently filed a lawsuit against Marvel Comics so that they could maintain the rights to the "Hulk Hogan" name as they launch their WWE 24/7 Video On Demand service.
Bloomberg Newswire ran an article today in which Marvel claims that WWE's rights to the name expired this month, though WWE claims that they own the rights until March of 2005.
Without the Hogan name, WWE cannot market and distribute the WWF, WCW, and WWE matches that they want to use as part of the WWE 24/7 service.
WWE had originally licensed the rights from Marvel Comics back in 1985 when the company came forward saying that Hogan's ring name was infringing on the rights of the "Incredible Hulk" character, which was created by Stan Lee back in the 1960's.
The original agreement between the two sides covered the names "Hulk Hogan", "The Hulkster", and "Hulkamania."
One of the main reasons why WCW often pushed the "Hollywood" Hogan name rather than "Hulk Hogan" was due to the legalities of the actual Hulk Hogan name. ----------------------------------------------------- This will make a pretty big impact on 24/7 if the WWE can't get the right to it. I also noticed on the Foley DVD, that they even blurred WWF logos on fans' t-shirts (which is just sad really). All the fans in the late 80s-early 90s that had Hulk shirts, foam fingers, etc....I don't understand if they had an agreement with Marvel in the first place, then why can't they just show the footage that Marvel has already approved. Honestly, companies (World Wildlife Fund) are just getting too fucking picky with rights to names.
If Terry Bollea were to legally change his name to Hulk Hogan, does any of this matter? Can he even do that, as it has already been establised that the name "Hulk" belongs to Marvel? Would he still be responsible to Marvel for use of the name? And if so, would the WWE then be able to use the Hulk Hogan name in old footage, given that at the time, his name wasn't legally Hulk Hogan then?
I've always wondered about this.
And why, given all of these naming issues, have I never read about any issues between Sting, the wrestler, and Sting, the singer?
"It's the four pillars of the male heterosexual psyche. We like naked women, stockings, lesbians, and Sean Connery best as James Bond because that is what being a [man] is." -Jack Davenport, Coupling
Here's the full article from Bloomberg.com, for anyone interested:
World Wrestling Sues Marvel Over Use of `Hulk' Name
By Susan Decker July 19 (Bloomberg) -- World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. is suing comic-book company Marvel Enterprises Inc. so it can continue using the ``Hulk Hogan'' name. Hulk Hogan, played by Terry Bollea, has been one of World Wrestling's most popular wrestlers since the 1980s. In 1985, World Wrestling signed a 20-year contract after it was accused by Marvel of infringing the ``Incredible Hulk'' comic-book character. The agreement covered the words ``Hulk Hogan,'' ``Hulkamania'' and ``Hulkster,'' according to the lawsuit. World Wrestling needs clear rights to continue using the Hulk Hogan name as it begins a subscription video-on-demand service that will feature its 75,000-hour library of old wrestling matches. The company is also planning to release videos and DVDs of old matches. ``The exploitation of WWE's works portraying Hulk Hogan figures prominently in WWE's efforts to make use of its video library,'' Stamford, Connecticut-based World Wrestling claims in the lawsuit, filed Thursday in New York. Marvel, the company that owns Spider-Man and the X-Men characters, contends that World Wrestling must stop using the Hulk Hogan name once the licensing contract expires. Marvel says it ended July 9, while World Wrestling says it ends in March 2005.
Death of the Hulk?
``In essence, Marvel Characters has taken the position that the Hulk Hogan character dies in July 2004 and that WWE will be violating'' Marvel's rights ``if WWE displays performances of the Hulk Hogan character rendered over the last 20 years,'' the suit contends. No date has been set for World Wrestling's WWE 24/7, said company spokesman Gary Davis. The company just started an advertising campaign in trade magazines and is ``close to finalizing agreements'' with some cable operators, he said. World Wrestling also is contesting Marvel's rights to the name, saying it's unclear who owns the rights since the company that was Marvel Comics ``has been part of numerous transactions, legal transformations and at least one highly complex bankruptcy reorganization over the past 20 years.'' World Wrestling wants a judge to rule that it has the rights to continue using the Hulk Hogan name and character, and to say whether Marvel owns the trademark.
`Engine of Destruction'
``The Incredible Hulk'' is a ``living, breathing engine of destruction,'' according to Marvel's Web site. The character was featured in a television series from 1978 to 1982 and a 2003 movie starring Eric Bana. In the TV series, Bill Bixby starred as a mild-mannered scientist who would become a muscular green-skinned monster (played by Lou Ferrigno) when angered. A spokesman for New York-based Marvel didn't immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment. Marvel, which is also in legal disputes with Walt Disney Co. and Sony Corp. over royalty payments for its character trademarks, reported $347.6 million in sales last year. World Wrestling sales for the year ended April 30 were $374.9 million, just $600,000 more than the year earlier. It's forecasting sales of $345 million to $365 million in fiscal 2005. Marvel shares fell 40 cents to close at $15.52 in New York Stock Market Exchange composite trading, while World Wrestling Entertainment shares fell 3 cents to $12.38.
And Sting is still a nice enough guy to let him use it.
The concept of blurring out Hulk Hogan during his matches is quite hilarious. I would imagine that WWE and Marvel will reach some sort of deal to keep using his likeness soon. But, isn't there some sort of clause on archived material that would allow WWE to use it since the agreement was valid during that time?
If they use something from 1987, that's WWE-owned footage of one of its wrestlers, who had a standing agreement with Marvel at the time.
What I cant understand is how there can even be a dispute over when the original agreement expires anyway. What, did both sides forget where they put their copy?
I mean, if both parties decided that starting on a certain date, the agreement would be in place for a certain amount of years and they put it in writing (like I'm assuming they did), why is there even any question about it now?
Furthermore, I'm having a hard time coming up with a reason why Marvel wants to end this agreement so bad anyway. If it was just about getting more money for WWE to re-up the agreement for another 20 years or something (which is the only thing I can think of), why not just say so? I cant imagine Marvel is pulling a "Wildlife Fund" by claiming that they dont want to be associated with prefessional wrestlers anymore, because I dont think anyone ever looked at or heard the name "The Incredible Hulk", and got it/him confused with "Hulk Hogan" (not in the last 15 or so years, anyway).
And finally, I love it when the mainstream press sees that the new WWE logo no longer has an "F" in it & thinks the name of the company is now "World Wrestling". Comedy.
First of all, Hogan's skin isnt orange. Maybe light reflects off his red and yellow attire sometimes and he might seem a little orange but- he IS some shade of brown. Look at him, dammit!
Now to other business; "Hogan'sMyDad" is right, Marvel didnt invent the freaking word Hulk, which by Websters definition is a "bulky or unwieldy person or thing" (it also means the body of a dismantled ship, but thats irrelevant)
I think it would be just as idiotic if the WWE got legal rights on the words "Doink, The, and Clown" and proceeded to put every circus and birthday clown out of business. (As well as claiming legal rights to anything with the word "THE" in its name or title.) Its just that dumb.
Quick side-note: The word "HULKING" means "heavy and clumsy", that completely changes the definition of "Hulking Up"- which would then mean "growing increasingly dense and stupid" (Which Hulking Up does not do, before anyone even takes that as an opportunity to make a cheap joke!)
(edited by WhoTookMyHonor? on 20.7.04 1442)
Eric: "Now to unveil my finishing move; the Bischoff lock!" Vince: "Let go of me you idiot!"
He was called "The Incredible Hulk Hogan" even when he won his first title in 1984.
I think the legal problem is that, even though it's clear they're two different characters, WWE has paying Marvel for the name for so long now, it's not like they can (easily) turn around now and say "oh, we don't think there's any copyright issues here". Or else they never would have worked out the royalty agreement in the first place.
I'm guessing they'll probably come to some sort of settlement agreement.
And didn't WCW, near the bitter end, begin referring to him just as "Hogan"? I remember a WCW book that came out around 2000, where that was his only name throughout the whole thing, as in "Hogan is a multi-time WCW World Champion. Hogan was the leader of the nWo." etc.
It's probably also a matter of Marvel Comics actively and aggressively pursuing their copyright. While they could probably easily settle this matter out of court, Marvel wants to make the arrangements through the proper legal channels so that they are on record defending their rights to the property. I expect this to be pretty much a non-issue that should resolve itself with very little trouble.
This is one of TNA's biggest weaknesses, in my opinion. They bill themselves as a serious competitor to the WWE, but they either don't have or just don't spend enough money on production elements to look like it.