Barely a month after changing their name to FC LevadiaKalev Tallinn, FC Levadia Maardu have reverted to their old title.
Last season's Estonian Meistriliiga runners-up announced their decision to play the coming 2003 season as LevadiaKalev and move away from the satellite town of Maardu, but a legal argument over their new title has forced them to change their plans.
Having joined the newly-established sports club KalevUnited, Levadia had decided to change their name, but their decision was met with stern resistance from the Estonian sports group ESS Kalev, who have strong state backing. ESS Kalev objected to the use of the word 'Kalev' in the club's name, but rather than undertake a lengthy court case to defend their right to their new moniker, Levadia have chosen to revert to their old title for the time being.
'In no one's interest'
"Actually the law about trademarks says that if there is more than two letter difference, you can register a new name," said Levadia managing director Indrek Petersoo. "LevadiaKalev is written as one word, so legally it is completely different from just Kalev, which is ESS Kalev's registered trademark.
Legally we would have won the battle, but our club decided it is in no one's interest to go to court on such a matter."
ESS Kalev was founded in 1901 and in the past was a strong club in many sporting fields. The football side, FC Kalev Tallinn, won the Estonian title twice in 1923 and 1930 before becoming part of an expanded organisation under Soviet occupation under the aegis of the Soviet Union's Trud sports club.
New football side
After Estonia regained independence, ESS Kalev tried to preserve their power in national sport, but failed to do so. They have now launched a new football section and will have a team playing in the Estonian fourth division this season.
'We will negotiate'
Levadia, meanwhile, intend to pursue their intent to change their name to LevadiaKalev although they will play the coming season under their current name. "We will negotiate with ESS Kalev and the lawyers, how to proceed in this matter," said Petersoo. "Obviously the forthcoming Estonian Parliament elections are also influencing the process." Levadia will start their 2003 Meistriliiga campaign on 15 March with a match against FC Levadia Tallinn.
The controversial 'Kalev' is actually a male Christian name in Estonia. It has significance because Kalevipoeg - literally 'Kalev's son' - is the mythical national hero of Estonia, and 'Kalev' has long been a badge of national pride and heroism in the Baltic state.
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