How ESPN's Purely Descriptive Trademark Turned A Saturday Into A Thursday

from the mind-equals-blown dept

When it comes to trademark, the NFL has oft times seemed like it was trying to win some kind of protectionist championship. Between all of their nonsense about their restrictions on using the term “Super Bowl” to actually trying to trademark euphemisms of their other trademarks, it all just comes off as over the top. Yet, even being aware of all that, perhaps you were watching football this Saturday like me and, like me, you were quite amused that the NFL Network’s broadcast was being branded as “Thursday Night Football: Saturday Edition.” Pretty silly, right? Why not just call it “Saturday Night Football”? Well, because trademark, of course.

Yes, that’s right, through the magic of ESPN holding a trademark on the term “Saturday Night Football”, a Saturday was transformed into a Thursday. I’ve already contacted my nine-to-five employer to assure them that I was unaware of this sorcery and to see if I will be disciplined for not coming into work on Sathursday. They’ve assured me that they have no idea what I’m talking about.

And, of course, what makes all of this so damned infuriating is that ESPN’s trademark is so unbelievably and obviously purely descriptive that it makes one wonder how in the world it was ever granted to begin with. The NFL’s lawyers in particular appear to have been muzzled by whoever in the league is negotiating with broadcast partners, because ESPN’s mark is just begging for opposition. Instead, we got “Thursday Night Football: Saturday Edition”, which would make as much sense as “Thursday Night Football: Baseball Edition.” Which is to say, no sense at all.

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Companies: espn, nfl, nfl network

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Comments on “How ESPN's Purely Descriptive Trademark Turned A Saturday Into A Thursday”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Someone should apply for a trademark on ‘Friday Night Football’, and then go from there.

If it’s refused, point to this trademark, and ask just what makes it so different, why Saturday Night Football is deserving of a trademark, but Friday Night Football isn’t.

If it makes it through, go ahead and trademark all the other nights as well, just to really ramp up the crazy. And then, just wait for someone in the press to find out, and sit back and watch the madness unfold(it’s a story that’s both incredibly stupid, and completely pointless, they would be all over it).

Dan J. (profile) says:

Not the negotiators

The NFL’s lawyers in particular appear to have been muzzled by whoever in the league is negotiating with broadcast partners, because ESPN’s mark is just begging for opposition.

My bet isn’t that they were muzzled by the negotiators but that they really don’t want to set a precedent. If the NFL challenged the trademark, anything they say to argue against that trademark would almost certainly be brought up in any lawsuits against their own ridiculous trademarks. They don’t want to rock the boat.

Anon says:

Re: Re:

I think this is where someone is filmed repeatedly hitting an NFL attorney with a baseball bat.

Why? NFL for once is the clever one. Instead of taking one of their golden gooses to court, they got creative – “let’s make this look so silly that everyone will be saying – WTF? You can trademark Saturday? Let’s put the onus on ESPN to stop being greedy stupid.” Actually I think for once it’s a genius move. Hence, I think the creative types came up with it, not the lawyers. Besides, it means spending a lot less money on Lawyers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Good one I must admit. I haven’t followed “Professional Football” in some time now. One reason being the team I once was a fan of lost four Super Bowls, three of them in a row as I recall. What with that, game blackouts, and my perceived loss of the love for the game by the league and officials did it for me. I do watch a college game on rare occasions, but would rather watch a High School game between two rival schools instead. And no Howard Cosell, or John Madden, God help us.

RedGreenBlue says:

Saturday Night Football

Why do I get the idea that neither the writer nor the commenters have ever heard of Monday Night Football, which is where these marks started, as well as secondary meaning? By the way, the NFL owns the Sunday and Monday Night marks (having had them assigned to it by ESPN and ABC), as well as Thursday Night. Why would the NFL challenge Saturday Night Football and thereby effectively attack its own marks?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Saturday Night Football

OK, that’s just ridiculous, of course we’ve heard of Monday Night Football.

Secondary meaning? I don’t see it here. Monday Night Football is the game that’s played on Monday night. Nobody cares what station it’s on as long as it’s a station they have.

And yeah, of course the NFL doesn’t really want to attack those marks. That doesn’t make “Thursday Night Football: Saturday Edition” any less ridiculous. You expect exactly two things of “Thursday Night Football”: that it be football, and that it be aired Thursday night.

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