Business owner prepared to rumble with WWE to settle legal dispute
A small business owner in Colwick has challenged the owner of WWE to a royal rumble after the American wrestling giant accused his company of breaching copyright.
Nottingham-born Alistair Rowarth, 48, known to his friends as Big Al, has been running car and van hire company Raw Motors off Private Road for just 16 months.
The father-of-three was astonished to find that his new business had angered the global wrestling brand who sent him an email threatening legal action.
WWE runs a Monday night ‘Raw’ programme, and the company claims that Big Al had copied their logo design.
Big Al, who also runs Bodycraft Tattoo Studio and Liberty Gym in the city centre, said it was a coincidence that the logos look the same.
So rather than face the legal battle, Big Al, weighing in at 22 stone, asked the multi-million-pound wrestling organisation – known for launching the careers of The Undertaker, The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin – to settle the dispute in the ring.
Opening up a cigar case on his desk packed with Twix chocolate bars, he told the Post: “I will fight them for it – they can send anyone they like. I would need some steps to get into the ring as I’ve not been in the gym for about two years.
“I would call myself Mad Jack McMahon or Kung Fu Panda. I have never followed wrestling, I used to box, but I used to get mistaken as wrestler Bautista.
“I will probably get battered but I will wear the best outfit.”
But the challenge was slammed by the WWE solicitors who declined the offer.
In a letter to Raw Motors, it says: “This kind of flippant response as set out is extremely disappointing and not constructive.
“You and your client should understand the importance of intellectual property rights but making an offer such as this appears to demonstrate otherwise and suggests a lack of respect in contrast to that which our client has accorded to yours.
“World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc, raised a legitimate complaint regarding your client’s adoption of the Logo and a response of this kind clearly indicates that your client is not taking it seriously.”
Big Al, who says he has been given two months to change the logo, said: “We are not changing the name. Never. We are just changing the design. We have put everything we have got into this business, such as re-mortgaging the house. It is petty. They are such a big organisation – fair enough if we had something to do with wrestling but we don’t.
Annamarie Garmston, 36, manager of Raw Motors, said: “When I first got the email through from WWE I thought it was a prank. We were like ‘how do they know about us?’ We were proud they knew about little Raw Motors in Colwick.”
She said changing the logo will be detrimental to the business, as 60 hired vans will have to be taken off the roads so that the logo can be removed from them.
Part of the letter sent to Raw Motors by solicitors working for WWE.
It will also mean scrapping 20,000 printed flyers and the sign across its doors. The company said it had spent thousands on branding.
Mrs Garmston said: “They are hitting a small business. We are only in our first year of business and were hoping to make a profit but this is going to put a dent in that. I think we could win the legal battle but we can’t afford to see it through so we thought we had nothing to lose but to challenge them to a fight.”
Big Al, who started his first business when he was 17 called Raw, which sold leather products, said: “I think they are scared of losing. I have nothing to lose. Bring the biggest one.”
A WWE spokesman said: “WWE takes its intellectual property rights very seriously in the interests of our official partners and licensees and to protect our fans and customers from confusion.”