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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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 4:26am

    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).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan J., 23 Dec 2014 @ 4:53am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 4:54am

    Maybe the NFL isn't fighting it for a reason. It's been pointed out here many times that they're vary uptight about anyone referring to their over-sized sporting event that happens once a year. Maybe they don't fight it because if they did and won, they wouldn't gain the trademark. ESPN would lose it and then anyone could use it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 23 Dec 2014 @ 5:05am

    "Thursday Night Football: Baseball Edition."

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

    I'd watch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anon, 23 Dec 2014 @ 10:35am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 5:18am

    The NFL has no saints , They started this trademark mess long ago , Now we have a pushing match look for more in the near future.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 5:23am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 23 Dec 2014 @ 5:26am

    It's a good thing I read this article. On the seventh day of the week this week, I was supposed to play a game involving an oblong ball in which you try to get past another team to reach the end of the field to score points.

    I was going to post on Facebook to try to get a few additional team members, but I now see that I need to be careful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    STJ, 23 Dec 2014 @ 6:11am

    So, did someone already get Saturday Afternoon Football?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 23 Dec 2014 @ 6:19am

      Re:

      That is confusing to customers. An idiot in a hurry may not realize what time "afternoon" becomes "night" - particularly in the winter months when the days are shorter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:24am

    they could go all internet on them 5@turd@y n!ght f00tb@ll

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 8:19am

    There are actually two SATURDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL filings by ESPN. One is registered on the Supplemental Register because the examiner found it descriptive. The other is still a pending application, as they've received two office actions on the grounds that their mark is descriptive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 10:02am

    A post-season football game: SUPERBOWL EDITION

    I'm just saying anyone could use that one following the same logic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    RedGreenBlue, 23 Dec 2014 @ 1:12pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2014 @ 10:01am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zonker, 23 Dec 2014 @ 2:05pm

    Now I'm really confused as to who owns football on which day and time of the week. Wasn't trademark supposed to prevent this kind of confusion?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2015 @ 1:26pm

    NFL

    the players may be taking the hits to the head but the Management and affiliates act like they took the hits to the head too

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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