A lot of focus is being put on this week’s upcoming Monday Night Raw as John Cena will make his official return to the ring. He’s been out of action since having surgery back in January, but he was out even longer due to filming his new reality show. Now, he’s on his way back, but there is already trouble for him as beer giant Pabst Blue Ribbon is threatening to sue over an issue with copyright infringement against both Cena and WWE.
With the entire wrestling world preparing for John Cena’s return, it should come as no surprise that WWE decided to bring out some new ring gear for him as well. The promotion isn’t going to miss the chance to capitalize and sell a bunch of T-shirts, accessories, and hats.
— WWEShop.com (@WWEShop) May 27, 2016
The new merchandise displays a drawn version of Cena along with his slogans of “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” and “Never Give Up.” Seems about par for the course except for the colors and extreme familiarity of the logo on the front of the shirt.
Yes, it does seem to resemble something and that would be the logo of beer giant Pabst Blue Ribbon. While a lot of fans happened to have a keen eye and noticed how much Cena’s new ring gear looked like PBR, the beer company caught wind of it as well and decided to deliver a message.
— Pabst Blue Ribbon (@PabstBlueRibbon) May 27, 2016
Pabst Blue Ribbon decided to put up a picture of Cena’s new ring gear and compare it to their logo on a T-shirt which is being worn by none other than John Cena.
There has been no other comment or word from Pabst Blue Ribbon on what they plan to do about all of this, and WWE has stayed quiet as well. It’s quite interesting that this tweet threatening a cease and desist order came out considering they seemed to once be fans of Cena.
Zap 2 It reported that back in 2012, Pabst Blue Ribbon actually tweeted out that John Cena was like its “spirit animal.” Now, the two former alliances have seen some tension come between them and it could all be over some copyright infringement.
In the past, John Cena has had a lot of merchandise that may have closely resembled other business, corporations, or brands. There was the time he was decked out in all green and yellow with logos that looked just like John Deere.
When it comes down to it, Pabst Blue Ribbon would have a pretty expensive fight on their hands if WWE ends up keeping the shirt as it is. As corporate law states, there is the “parody” situation of copyright infringement law that could end up helping WWE’s case.
“Since copyright law prohibits the substantial use of a copyrighted work without permission of the copyright owner, and because such permission is highly unlikely when the use is to create a parody, it may be necessary for the parodist to rely on the fair-use defense to forestall any liability for copyright infringement. However, the fair-use defense if successful will only be successful when the newly created work that purports itself to be parody is a valid parody.”
If WWE sees that PBR is going to make this into a big issue, they may just scrap the new line of John Cena ring gear entirely and have him return in something else on Monday Night Raw. Should WWE go through with the new line of merchandise, it could make for a rather interesting legal battle.
WWE has not yet offered up any type of public comment or response to Pabst Blue Ribbon, but it’s likely that will be taken care of in private if possible. The new merchandise for John Cena was expected to debut this Monday when he returns on Raw, and it’s going to be interesting to see if he still ends up wearing it. The cease and desist order from PBR may not be legally binding yet, but if Cena shows up on TV in that gear, then things could get ugly.
[Image via WWE]