Super Bowl Intellectual Property Insanity: No Big Screen Super Bowl Parties, Trademarking 19-0

from the the-big,-big-game dept

Well here are a couple stories to leave you with as we head into Super Bowl weekend. Every year it seems there's some insanity concerning the NFL somehow trying to abuse intellectual property rights above and beyond what they're designed for. Remember, the NFL thinks that it can tell reporters how to report on a game, while also forcing them to advertise for NFL sponsors. It also has been known to issue bogus DMCA notices. And, of course, don't forget that not only has the NFL bullied people into believing that you can't use the phrase "The Super Bowl" in an advertisement, after many advertisers switched to the euphemism "The Big Game" to appease the NFL, it tried to trademark "The Big Game" as well.

This year, the big news (as submitted by a lot of you), but first by Ryan, is that the New England Patriots have applied for a trademark on "19-0" to represent the undefeated season the team will have if it wins this season. The NY Post, snarky as ever, filed for a trademark on 18-1 in response, supporting the home town NY Giants. This, of course, seems rather ridiculous. What would happen in future seasons if some other team was able to go 19-0? There's also the question of hubris in declaring yourself 19-0 before that final game. On that note, you can already pre-order a book about the 19-0 season, even though it hasn't been completed yet.

That's not all, though. Last year, we had a story that got tremendous attention about the NFL stopping churches from having Super Bowl parties, if they had a TV that was bigger than 55". There was a lot of fuss about it, and you would think that, perhaps, the NFL would let it slide this year. Not so. Ethan Bauley writes in to let us know that, once again, the NFL has been going around stopping churches from holding Super Bowl... er... The Big Game... er... "Best Commercials Of The Year, Interrupted By Some Game" parties, for having TVs that are too big.

So, remember, as you watch the... event... this weekend, to do so on a TV smaller than 55", do not refer to it as "The Super Bowl" or "The Big Game," make sure to notice the photojournalists wearing sponsors' clothing, and certainly do not put a fair use clip on YouTube. And, perhaps, cheer on the Giants in their effort to make the 19-0 trademark question a hypothetical, rather than practical, question.

Filed Under: 19-0, copyright, nfl, super bowl, the big game, the patriots, trademarks
Companies: nfl


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  1. identicon
    Astrid, 3 Feb 2008 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Thoughts on definition of

    The law that defines "Public Performance" is USC 17.110(5)(B)(i)(II) and dates back to 1975, and specifically qualifies "public performance" as being viewed on a television size of 55 inches or larger.

    Again, the law is somewhat archaic- being written in 1975 when the cost of a 56" television was simply outside of the grasp of the general public.

    Now that barriers to entry have come down, I would imagine it would be in the public's best interest to revisit USC 17.110(5)(B)(i)(II).

    This is actually the most logical argument/explanation that I've heard so far. Yes, it is past time for the law to be amended to reflect the fact that 55 inch + TVs are now widely available.

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