Will The Real Sean Michaels Please Throw Down?

After over fifteen years carving out a name for himself in the adult industry, the last thing performer/producer/director Sean Michaels ever expected was an identity crisis. But that's what he got when two weeks ago he received a cease & desist letter from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) asking him to relinquish his name.rnrn

"We received a letter from the WWE's attorney asking Sean to give up his rights to his name, an agreement to cease infringement," Michael's assistant Pam Anderson told AVN.com. rnrn

It seems there is a wrestler named Shawn Michaels and the WWE organization is none too pleased that he is allegedly being confused with the porn performer, so they had attorney Lauren A. Bienes-Middlen fire off a threatening letter.rnrn

"At first I had mixed feelings about it," Michaels told AVN.com. "I know that people often confuse the two names, but I didn't realize it had gotten to the point where mine was just as popular as the wrestler. Then I felt a little slighted because I take great pride in what I do in the adult industry. They're telling me that because I am in the adult industry, that is the reason why they don't want the name association and I'm to cease and desist after working 14 years in pursuit of my career and building my dream. Now I'm supposed to give it up and walk away?"rnrn

Anderson continued. "They made a comment that 'your incidental spelling variations of the same name does not change the fact that it is the same name and phonic equivalent of the exact mark. The use of Sean Michaels with your merchandise will confuse the consumers as to the source of which these services originated. Consumers who purchased your product will be lead to believe that these products have been made, approved or sponsored by the WWE.'"rnrn

"If we don't sign that cease & desist letter than they will take us to court," Anderson said. "Without the Sean Michaels name he has nothing left, that's his company, his life, this is what he does."rnrn

"I never even knew that there was a guy named Shawn Michaels," professed the other Sean. "In 1986, when I applied for the DBA (Doing Business As) for Sean Michaels Productions, nothing came back. They gave me my DBA and let me do my thing. Then I trademarked my name four years ago. So I've taken the precautions to protect myself."rnrn

"It's really shocking," Anderson added. "Why did it take them 14 years to make a comment about it? He has credibility in adult entertainment, he's very high class, a business professional, so there's no reason to cease using his name and he has the material to back it up. Sean did his first scene, in Adam and Eve's House Party, back in 1986. The wrestler has been using his name since 1988."rnrn

"My name is trademarked and spelled differently," Sean wondered, "so why wait over 14 years to say something? We trademarked my name four years ago. His name has never been trademarked. Not only did the World Wrestling Entertainment lose the WWF title to the World Wildlife Foundation because they never trademarked it, but the wrestler Shawn Michaels himself has been sued in similar litigation." rnrn

After a little research, Michaels' attorney made a startling revelation when he went to check the U.S. trademark patent office record. He discovered that the WWE never actually trademarked Shawn Michaels the wrestler. There had been two abandoned registrations however, both dated in 1997.rnrn

And then there's the matter of the ever-changing deadlines. "The letter was dated December 10th 2002, but we received it January 6th 2003," Anderson said. "Then they gave us a deadline date to respond and sign by January 22nd. Then all of a sudden they said we had 60 days to show proof that Sean Michaels is who he is and has been using that name for several years. They know that they dropped the ball somewhere or why would they extend it 60 days?"rnrn

"My take on it is they think I'm just talent and I have no recourse," said Sean. "So I decided they have another thing coming and called my attorney and I am letting him handle the matter. They have a lot of money, a billion dollar company, and are coming after me, a guy who owns a corporation but is nowhere near where these guys are. The issue is the popularity of what I do and what he does and the conflict of that." rnrn

"They have asked me to provide proof of the first time I used the name, fine, but we're asking them to do the same," Michaels stated. "As far as I'm concerned the damage has already been done. It's a slander to me and what I believe in and who I am and how I represent myself. I'm going to counter sue them because it has already cost me a couple thousand to get my attorney and my people to work on this."rnrn

"They barked up the wrong tree this time because I'm not just some swinging black bitch that they can throw a legal latter at and expect me to close up shop and roll over. I don't think so. Let me do my job and I'll let you do yours. I want people to know that I mind my business, I just do my job and am a happy go lucky guy most of the time but don't fuck with me because, you know what? I'll finish it."