It's The Super Bowl Of Trademark Misuse!

from the hurray! dept

Last month we wrote about how the Olympics, beyond just trying to sue anyone who used the word Olympics, was also trying to get laws passed in the UK that would grant extra trademark protections, even allowing the Olympics to control all advertising in the vicinity of the event. In the comments, someone noted the similarity to the Super Bowl... er... "the Big Game this Sunday". Indeed, mmrtnt points us to an article discussing how advertisers are forced to come up with different phrases to avoid getting nastygrammed from the NFL's lawyers. Again, this is a misuse of trademark law. The point of a trademark is not that you get exclusive control over the trademarked phrase, but that you can prevent others from using it a misleading or confusing way. No one could make a credible claim that an advertiser mentioning the Super Bowl is somehow confusing people into believing that they're officially associated with the game. This is a money grab -- which is not what trademark law is intended for.

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 3 Feb 2006 @ 12:05pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    The issue is that advertisers using the phrase Super Bowl are attempting to make a profit by using the NFL's mark.

    This is a bogus issue. The point of trademark has nothing to do with stopping others from profiting. It has only to do with preventing others from profiting in misleading ways. If it's not misleading, then it's not a trademark issue.

    It also intimates that the advertiser is sanctioned by the NFL.

    Uh... why? I don't think most people assume that if you MENTION "super bowl" that you were officially sanctioned.

    The other issue is that the NFL wants to be able to charge people a hell of a lot of money to be the "official" whatever of the Super Bowl. How can they justify those fees if any advertiser can latch onto the Super Bowl name?

    Well, yeah. Of course that's the real issue, but that's not a reason to misuse trademarks. That's not what trademarks are for. If it is, then you've just destroyed competition. Based on your reasoning, if I'm a pizza store owner, and someone opens up a pizza store next door, I can sue him for trademark violation, because it makes it more difficult for me to charge more for my official pizza.


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