Former WWE tag team The Revival (now going under the names of Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler), received a cease and desist letter, through their attorney Michael E. Dockins, sent by Andrew Gerber, an attorney representing independent tag team The Revolt (Zane Riley & Caleb Konley) (real names Matthew Riley & Mason Burnett) on May 10th, according to a report from PWInsider.com who note that this stemmed from unhappiness that Konley & Riley have been using the team name “The Revolt” for the past 5 years on the independent scene and worked in the same circles as Harwood and Wheeler, who filed to trademark the phrase “Free The Revolt”.
The report notes that in their letter, Gerber stated “The Revolt are well-known in the independent professional wrestling circuit and are the current PWX World Tag Team Champions. Mr. Burnett and Mr. Riley sell a range of Revolt branded merchandise, including t-shirts, hats and DVD’s, as shown in Exhibit B. The Revolt has been their passion for years and they have literally put their blood and sweat into building The Revolt brand and connecting with their fans”. The letter states that Harwood and Wheeler have recently rebranded themselves as The Revolt and have begun using The Revolt and Fear The Revolt as trademarks in connection with professional wrestling entertainment and associated merchandise and argues that Cash Wheeler (aka the former Dash Wilder) declared under oath that to the best of his knowledge and belief, that no other persons have the right to use the mark in commerce, either in the identical form or in such near resemblance as to be likely, when used on or in connection with the goods/services of such other person, to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive.
The letter states that all four individuals (Harwood, Wheeler, Konley and Riley) know each other and that Konley and Riley, upon learning of the trademark filing, tried to reach out to Harwood and Wheeler as friends, but were rebuffed. The letter also claimed that under United States trademark law, the senior user of a trademark has the executive right to use the mark, regardless of whether the mark has been registered and that since Konley and Riley have been using The Revolt name since 2015, they are the true and exclusive owners of rights in The Revolt name. The letter also requested a response by Monday, May 18th and warned that Riley and Konley could pursue additional legal remedies, while the letter also included proof of the team using The Revolt name, including photos of merchandise, advertising utilizing the team name for independent wrestling events and DVD releases.
The report from PWInsider.com notes that Michael E. Dockins, the attorney representing Harwood and Wheeler, responded to the cease and desist on May 11th stating that there are a number of fundamental errors and flaws in not only what Konley and Riley have represented to their attorney, but also in the allegations levied. Dockins stated that while all four men know each other, they are able and willing to testify under oath that they were not aware of and at worst, have no recollection of ever knowing that Konley and Riley claimed rights in a Revolt-inclusive trademark. Dockins’ response also stated that Caleb Konley’s social media accounts did not even reference The Revolt name until after it was clear that the Free The Revolt trademark had been applied for and that he and Riley began social media tirades about the issue. Dockins’ response also claimed that the former Revival’s tag team name will not be Fear The Revolt and that his client do not intend and have never intended to call themselves Fear The Revolt as they have at all times and in every way made it clear that their tag team name would be FTR and that FTR can and would mean different things, depending on their storyline and creative. Dockins stated that Harwood and Wheeler are not responsible for and cannot be held responsible for wrestling websites (labelled as dirt sheets) and others incorrectly attributing to them a name, other than the name they have chose, FTR and that when Konley and Riley reached out to Harwood and Wheeler as friends to resolve the matter, they were informed that the tag team name is, was and will be FTR and not Revolt or The Revolt or Fear The Revolt.
Dockins stated that FTR respectfully disagree with Konley and Riley’s presumptive conclusion that the use of the mark Fear The Revolt creates a likelihood of confusion with and infringement of the mark The Revolt and explained that tag teams with similar names have always existed in professional wrestling including The Rock N’ Roll Express and The Midnight Express and that beyond that, none of those led to a confusion in the marketplace. Dockins states that whether Harwood and Wheeler move forward with the trademark filing of Fear The Revolt or not, the team can and will continue to use the phrase in a descriptive form, noting that the entire purpose behind the use of the word Revolt and Fear The Revolt was a commentary on Harwood and Wheeler’s departure from the WWE, that they revolted against the establishment and that descriptive fair use permits use of another’s trademark to describe the user’s products or services, rather than as a trademark to indicate the source of the products or services and that this usually is appropriate where the trademark concerned has a descriptive meaning, in addition to its secondary meaning as a trademark and that in this instance, the word Revolt clearly has a descriptive meaning and may be freely used by Harwood and Wheeler or anyone else in the wrestling business.
Dockins also stated that even if the Trademark Office or a court of law found that there could be a likelihood of confusion, that Konley and Riley could at best hope for a concurrent use proceeding, where the trademark would, in blue collar terms, be carved out for usage in certain states and markets for one entity claiming original ownership and others for the second entity. Dockins noted that the entire situation will require everyone involved to spend considerable amounts of time and money and that the money will only escalate over time, noting that Harwood and Wheeler had previouslt offered to personally finance Konley and Riley’s own trademark filing for The Revolt name, while Dockins also offered to waive his fees, inclusive of the cost of a consent agreement if one is necessary, to prosecute the application to registration and that that by itself, has a value of a number of thousands of dollars.
Dockins claimed that Harwood and Wheeler would have been willing to even work with Konley and Riley in the ring, had the latter not attempted to disparage them via social media, noting that Harwood and Wheeler would have discussed and been willing to work an angle with them on an independent show or two of their choosing, however Konley and Riley did not proceed in a manner benefiting friends and that such accommodations are now off the table and that at best, only uncertain results and legal fees are ahead. Dockins also noted that despite the back and forth as well as potential legal action, the Fear The Revolt trademark remains a pending, unpublished trademark that has not yet even been used by Harwood and Wheeler or anyone else in association with the team and that if Konley and Riley are willing to discuss a reasonable and mutually beneficial resolution and one that includes a public apology to Harwood and Wheeler, then they will consider where things stand moving forward.