If you do not dilute the Trademark, you are likely to prevail in litigation. However, it seems like it may be better in your case to come up with new "wrestling sounding" names that are not trademarked. I'm just making up names (in case they are already in use), but names like "Black Doom," "Colossus," and "The Southern Fist" are a dime a dozen. I'd recommend coming up with your own...
First of all, a celebs name IS their TM. Chris Benoit IS a TM, so that shoots that portion of your question.
As far as real names (in this instance), I would think legally it would be Mark Callaway, AKA the Undertaker or, Paul Levesque AKA Hunter Hearst Helmsly, AKA HHH, AKA Triple H, AKA The Blue Blood. I think the bigger problem may come in under the "using the likeness" of a particular person. To give a great example, Barry Bonds in not part of the MLBPA, so any video games cannot have his likeness associated with the game at all unless they get permission directly from Barry Bonds. He would be defined as #25, LF and have a generic player picture.
BTW- Mark Callaway did use his real name in the early NWA days (pre WCW) and his name has been stated in the WWE, albriet not very often. Paul Wright also used his real name in wrestling too. (I'm kind of a wrestling junkie)...
So let's say I wanted to create a game where you trade stocks of celebrities (HSX.com is a similar site where you trade movies, but you can also trade individual movie stars). Their stock price is affected based on how much they're in the news, what they're doing/planning, etc - their overall net worth. The stock price is based on the players buying or selling that stock. The more that buy, the higher it goes.
So, in wrestling, if Mark Callaway (as the Undertaker) wins the title or gets a monster push, he's just become that much more valuable. In more of an unlikely scenario, if he quits WWE and jumps to TNA, that will affect his stock price, whether it's up or down. If he gets arrested for drug possession driving to an event, his stock price will probably go down. It has nothing to do with the character of "The Undertaker.".
My question is, if I use a stock ticker name such as MCAL, and then on that stock's profile page, have the information taken directly from Wikipedia (which is okay to do as it is), will that help at all legally?.
It's kind of confusing which is..
My first thought would be to get permission from the WWE, but Mr. McMahon tends to hold his property pretty close. Also keep in mind that the WWE does ahve a fantasy wrestling game currently (which I do play). They might se it as a threat, regardless if there is one or not.
As far as making generic symbols for reference, you are best off with an IP attorney. If you are serious, that is the only way to go.
PS- no matter what, I always pick Torrie Wilson mmmmmmm..
Well I also should mention that this game doesn't revolve solely around WWE. I'll be using every major person in the professional wrestling world, whether or not they are working for WWE, TNA, indies, or not working at all.
Making up fake names really won't work for what I'm trying to do.
Also, the reason I brought up the real names thing is because I assumed the TM wasnt registered to WWE, but rather the individual, especially if they have used that name previously, as in WCW or way back in their career...
I guess my best option is to get ahold of a lawyer who can answer these questions...
An IP attorney is always the bes way to go. But know that a TM does not have to be registered to be a TM. Just using the name will afford some protection, even if they used it yesterday or 15 years ago...
As far as I am aware, wrestlers rarely hold legal rights to their names. Ask Jesse Ventura. I dont know how this works though. Maybe things have changed, maybe it's based on the popularity of a player and their contract negotiations. But I'll say that I've seen wrestlers on WCW who came to WWF or vice versa and their character names did not carry over. Such as Razor Ramone, who went to WCW as Scott Hall while someone else took over as Razor Ramone on WWF for a short time.
Either way someone owns the rights to those names, and it's not you I don't know how other sites get away with these types of things, but I'd imagine that it's possible for you to run into legal troubles. So it's basically a proceed at your own risk type scenario, unless you seek legal advice...
The way it works is this (ugh, wrestling geek coming out):.
Whomever owns the rights to the names is the person (or corp) that creates the persona. Usually, a person starts out in the independant circut (Indy). They create their own persona or use their real name. They would own that name. Now if they join a different territory (or the big call up), it is written in the contracts who owns the persona and at that time, the wrestler is told what they will be called and how they will be used. Mr.
But the WWE will do it's best to own as much of the wrestler as possible. Many times, wrestles give up their rights for the bigger paycheck and can no longer use that persona when they leave. The perfect example is The "Dudley Boyz" Bubba Ray and Devon DudleyThey actually gave up those names to sign multi million dollar contacts. Now they go by Brother Ray and Brother Devon of "Team 3D" because the WWE owns the persona they created a decade ago.
This is why a wrestler comes into a new Federation with different names. Now, when a wrestler uses thier real names like Chris Benoit, they cannot give it up because it is their given name. In cases like that, the WWE would add an identifier like "The crippler" Chris Benoit. He can not use that outside of the WWE. Using the example of Razor Ramon, the WWF (called back then) owned the persona so when Scoll Hall left for WCW, Vince McMahon decided to take a shot at Scott Hall and Kevin Nash by bringing in new people to play the personas of Razor Ramon and Diesel (BTW- Glen Jacobs who is currently Kane played the new Razor Ramon back then).
So just like business, everything if negotiated and put into a contract. Just like big business, the bigger side and bully the other side. Hulk Hogan calls his own shots and usually gets his way, but he is money. Someone coming out of the OVW will be crapped on from day one.
Sorry NamePros for true geekiness of this post..
Right. Now my question is, by using their real name, do I still get into legal troubles? The game is based around the person himself, not the persona or character created by WWE, TNA, etc.
The best non-wrestling example I can think of would be if I had an entertainment game and I had a stock for Kevin James (comedian, King of Queens... sorry, it's on TV right now). Although he is on the King of Queens, the stock name wouldn't be Doug Heffernan (his character name in the show), it would be Kevin James (or to get technical Kevin George Knipfing, which is his real name). You are trading/betting/playing using James' CAREER. Let's say he wins an Emmy, or is the lead in a new primetime show, his stock price will go up. It won't be affected, however, on a story within King of Queens where he gets fired from his job, because you are trading on the actor himself.
It gets tricky with pro wrestling, however, because what happens to them on-screen is basically a measure of their career. If they win the title, get involved in a big storyline, get a lot of TV time, etc, then their price would probably go up because their career is going well. If they were to lose the title or get injured or become a jobber, their stock price would go down.
I just need a way to distinguish between these two different scenarios. I think using television as an example might make it a little more easier to distinguish...
You should be alright, using the wrestlers real names. Although it kind of defeats the purpose. Wrestling fans (especially newer one's) know Undertaker for example by that name (especially since he's been using Undertaker for like 15 years). They don't know about when he first started when he used his real name. Putting him in your game as Mark Callaway or "Mean" Mark Callous will confuse the newer fans.
I think Vince McMahon is a real ass picking on smaller sites that are actually helping promote his product, but that's another topic...
Well that's where Wikipedia comes in... check out any Wikipedia article about a wrestler that is titled their real name, and in the first paragraph it says "So and so, known professionally in World Wrestling Entertainment as This Guy," so it will say it right on the stock's profile page...