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World Wresting Entertainment can seize counterfeit merchandise: Appeals court

Posted On: Nov. 4, 2014 12:00 AM CST

World Wresting Entertainment can seize counterfeit merchandise: Appeals court

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. can seize counterfeit merchandise, says an appellate court in overturning a lower court ruling.

Stamford, Connecticut-based WWE had filed suit in U.S. District Court in New Orleans seeking an ex parte seizure and temporary restraining orders with regard to seizing counterfeit merchandise under the Trademark Counterfeiting Act, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. v. Unidentified Parties. Ex parte is a legal term referring to something done by or for one party.

The District Court turned down the request.

“Without knowing the identities of persons against whom seizure would be ordered, the district court thought it was unable to evaluate WWE’s likelihood of success in showing such persons had used a counterfeit mark,” said the 5th Circuit appeals panel.

The District Court used similar reasoning in denying the company’s request for a temporary restraining order. However, said the unanimous three-judge panel, “The district court’s granular focus on the ‘identity” of unnamed Defendants misinterpreted the statutory requirement and its application here.”

WWE makes its own merchandise sales directly, which identifies any non-WWE seller as a counterfeiter, said the ruling.

“WWE cannot know in advance the specific identities of counterfeiters who will present themselves at any a given event, but it does know that any non-affiliated seller at or near an event is almost certainly a counterfeiter,” said the ruling, in remanding the case to the lower court for further proceedings.