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
    Ehren E. Turner, 2 Feb 2008 @ 7:16am

    Ignore it

    19-0 isn't remotely defensible as a copyright. Still, putting a (c) after it would be a good way of mocking the Patriots (not the team itself, but the management). You can file a copyright on anything, but that doesn't mean it'll stick if you have to take it to court. The law is still rational. "Super Bowl" is protectable under copyright law, but it doesn't preclude anyone from using it to refer directly to *the* Super Bowl. "The Big Game" is not copyrightable because the connection to the Super Bowl is hypothetical and conditional.

    The NFL has no teeth when it comes to forcing people to watch their show on small screens. And absolutely insane. It is, in essence, boycotting TV manufacturers of large screen TVs. The NFL relies on public good will for everything. If we get pissed off, we can still watch the game. Invite them to sue us. If they dare, show up to court but make sure you invite reporters, and then suggest boycotting anything that advertises on the Super Bowl for a period of one month following the next year's game to remind these imbeciles that we live in a world based on reality.

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