This Is How CEOs From Rival Airline Companies Settled Disputes In The 90s

March 2, 2016

When Southwest began using the motto "Just Plane Smart" in 1992, Stevens Aviation, which had been using the motto "Plane Smart," advised Southwest that it was infringing on its trademark.

Instead of a lawsuit, the CEOs for both companies agreed to settle the dispute with an arm wrestling match.

southwest ceo arm wrestling stevens aviation

The "Malice In Dallas" Was Born

Held at the now-demolished Dallas Sportatorium (the famed wrestling facility), the match was set for two out of three rounds. The loser of each round agreed to pay $5,000 to the charity of his choice, with the winner gaining the use of the trademarked phrase.

A promotional video was created showing the CEOs "training" for the bout.

Southwest's CEO Herb Kelleher was filmed being helped up during a sit-up where a cigarette and glass of Wild Turkey was waiting for him. Watch the video below:

Herb Kelleher ended up losing the match for Southwest, with Stevens Aviation winning the rights to the phrase.

But Kurt Herwald, CEO of Stevens Aviation, immediately granted the use of "Just Plane Smart" to Southwest Airlines.

The net result was both companies having use of the trademark, $15,000 going to charity and good publicity for both companies.

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