Sports Stars Rushing To The Trademark Office: Fear The Brow & That's A Clown Question, Bro

from the fear-the-clown-brow-question-bro dept

Ah, the wonders of trademark law and sports stars. Earlier this year, we wrote about the rush to trademark "Linsanity" when afterthought point guard Jeremy Lin suddenly became an overnight sensation for the NY Knicks. In that case, a bunch of others sought the trademark, and a week or so later, Jeremy Lin himself jumped in to try to get the trademark as well. A quick search at the USPTO shows nine "live" trademarks on Linsanity (well, eight that are just "Linsanity" and one that is "Linsanity 17" -- which is Lin's uniform number). For what it's worth, it seems like only one of those marks is actually held by Jeremy Lin, and it certainly looks like there may be some overlap, so perhaps there will be some litigation at some point.

Apparently, young sports stars are very quickly learning to rush to the trademark office. Baseball phenom Bryce Harper -- at 19 already living up to the massive expectations Sports Illustrated lumped on his shoulders three years ago -- recently got some attention for telling a Canadian reporter "that's a clown question, bro" in response to a question about his favorite beer and if he was going to go out and celebrate with a beer since he's of legal drinking age in Canada (where they were playing).

The very next day, Harper filed for a trademark on "that's a clown question, bro." It almost makes you wonder if he'd been saving up that line... As of the latest search, he's the only one filing for it so far, but the link above notes that a brewery in Colorado has already brewed up a batch of beer called "Clown Question, Bro." Since Harper's application is for apparel, it's unlikely it applies to beer. Though, if it were me, I probably would have called it "Clown Question, Brew." Either way, Under Armour, the sporting goods company that Harper has a deal with already, has said that it's going to be releasing a "line" of shirts around the "clown question, bro" phrase.

Meanwhile, moving back to basketball, there's the news that NBA-bound college hoops star Anthony Davis has filed for trademarks on both "Fear the Brow" and "Raise the Brow" after his... er... "trademark" unibrow. His explanation?
“I don’t want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it,” Davis told CNBC. “Me and my family decided to trademark it because it’s very unique.”
I'm not quite sure how one "tries to grow a unibrow" if they don't have one already -- and if they legitimately have one, then why is it that only Davis gets to make money from his unibrow? For what it's worth, as the article notes, the phrase has been popular for a while, surrounding his success at Kentucky, but he couldn't profit from it as that would cut into his eligibility as an amateur (cue rant about stupid college sports rules). Either way, lots of "bootleg" apparel was sold -- some of which the university tried to stop, though I'm not sure they had any legal basis for doing so in many cases. There was also one local store, Blue Zone, that sold stuff and filed for its own trademark on the phrase for apparel. There may be an issue there. Davis' trademark application is super broad in terms of what he claims it will apply to. Blue Zone's mark is just for clothing, but Davis' is for a ton of stuff, including clothing, but also fragrances, entertainment "services," water bottles, book covers, pencils, trading cards, lunch bags, facial tissues and much, much more.

Does Davis have the right to supercede Blue Zone's mark just because he's the one who has the actual unibrow?

Either way, it seems like a sign of the times, that sports stars these days are rushing to the trademark office at every opportunity to file trademarks on some identifying characteristic. I'm not sure this is a positive development.


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