Tom Brady Attempts To Trademark The Nickname He Doesn't Even Want, That's Already Used By A Famous NY Met With Dementia

from the interception dept

We've talked for some time about the increasing trend in professional sports for athletes to seek trademarks on anything and everything that might possibly be branded. This trend has actually spilled over into some professional sports teams themselves attempting to get trademarks for the athletes that play for the team. It is all frankly very irritating and smells purely of the kind of money-grab that was absolutely not the point of trademark law to begin with, but at least we can say for most of these cases that the slogans and nicknames for which trademarks are sought are fairly unique.

This is most certainly not the case for Tom Brady, who's company, TEB Capital, has applied for a trademark on one of his nicknames, "Tom Terrific", for trading cards, sports merch, and clothing. There's only one problem: Tom Terrific is indeed a well-known nickname... of former NY Met Tom Seaver.

The hardly humble New England Patriots quarterback is seeking to trademark the moniker “Tom Terrific” — the same nickname bestowed upon legendary Mets’ Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver.

Brady’s recent trademark application was discovered by a Philadelphia law firm and instantly sent Mets fans into a tizzy.

Seaver frankly popularized the nickname Tom Terrific in the sporting world. He never trademarked the nickname, of course, because that wasn't the trend decades ago. And he most certainly will not be trademarking it now, given that he is suffering from dementia and is not well. Brady's trademark, if granted, would seem to limit what Seaver, the original Tom Terrific, can do with his own nickname that will be under the control of Brady, a lesser (pretender?) Tom Terrific. On the question of public confusion, the reaction by New Yorkers is instructive. It's also entertaining in the reactions' massive amounts of New-York-ness.

“Tom Brady is an arrogant pr–k,” Mets superfan Dom D’Angelo, 55, fumed outside his team’s Citi Field ballpark in Queens on Sunday. “He’s not getting his cheating, ball-deflating paws on ‘Tom Terrific.’ Go back to Boston and get your own f–king name, Brady.”

Even Yankees fan Michael Robinson said Brady shouldn’t be going after Seaver’s moniker.

“He’s got Gisele [Bündchen] — what else does he need?” Robinson remarked of Brady and his model wife.

Poll the average American sports fan and ask them who Tom Terrific is and the overwhelmingly consistent answer you will get is Tom Seaver. If that's the case, it doesn't make much sense with respect to the purpose of trademark law to grant Brady exclusive rights to sporting merch for that term.

Oh, and if you thought it wasn't bad enough already, the story turns out to be even worse. Brady is claiming he's only trying to trademark the name because he hates it and wants to stop people from using it:

“It’s unfortunate. I was actually trying to do something because I didn’t like the nickname, and I want to make sure no one used it because some people wanted to use it,” Brady said at Gillette Stadium. “I was trying to keep people from using it, and then it got spun around to something different than what it was.”

This is not how any of this works. First of all, you don't get to just register a trademark on a nickname to get people to stop using it. You only can register the trademark if you are using it in commerce -- not if you're trying to just stop others from calling you a name. Second... huh? Why would you even bother to trademark a name if you (incorrectly) thought that this would magically stop people from calling you a name you didn't like. None of this makes any sense at all. It's really not terrific, Tom.

Filed Under: tom brady, tom seaver, tom terrific, trademark


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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Jun 2019 @ 3:30pm

    Now I see why Donald Trump likes the guy: They’re both morons.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2019 @ 3:43pm

    Tom Terrific was a tv show in the 50s.

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

  3. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 11 Jun 2019 @ 4:13pm

    Sick and tired

    Brady is claiming he's only trying to trademark the name because he hates it and wants to stop people from using it:

    He's sick and tired of people saying he's a demented baseball player from New York! What? They're talking about someone else? Nonsense! There's only one Tom who's Terrific.
    ;)

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2019 @ 4:17pm

    Re:

    While Timothy Geigner might not have been a kid in the 1950s when the cartoon Tom Terrific was playing on TV and thus have no personal knowledge of it, the simple use of a search engine would have easily revealed this relevant fact.

    How about a rewrite to correct this glaring omission, Tim?

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2019 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Re:

    How about a rewrite to correct this glaring omission, Tim?

    How is it a glaring omission when this article wasn't about a TV show in the 50's, it was about how Tom Brady is trying to trademark Tom Terrific when that nickname was bestowed upon Tom Seaver, the Hall of Fame pitcher who played for the Mets.

    Just because it was a TV show in the 50's means nothing in the context of this article.

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

  6. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Jun 2019 @ 4:29pm

    There's only one Tom who's Terrific.

    Yeah, Tom Nook.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2019 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Except that Tom Seaver was named after the popular TV show, a fact which would likely have prevented him from even considering trademarking the name Tom Terrific, especially at a time when that show was still fresh in people's minds and Seaver would have been seen by the public as trying to "steal" the identity for himself.

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

  8. icon
    Thad (profile), 11 Jun 2019 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Tim even specifically states that "Seaver frankly popularized the nickname Tom Terrific in the sporting world." That qualifier certainly indicates that he's aware of other prior uses of the name but they're not germane to the story.

    Techdirt frequently notes that trademarks are market-specific. Yes, Tom Terrific was the name of a TerryToons cartoon that ran on Captain Kangaroo in the 1950s, but that isn't relevant to whether it can be trademarked "for trading cards, sports merch, and clothing." However, it's also the nickname of another famous sports figure, and that absolutely is relevant.

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

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 11 Jun 2019 @ 4:57pm

    You'd think someone in sports would be aware of 'own goal'

    Didn't want people to use a name to mock him, tries to file a bogus trademark to try to prevent that from happening and in the process undercut someone who actually earned the name...

    Yup, that'll certainly help with the 'people are being mean to me' problem you've got there.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2019 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Except that Tom Seaver was named after the popular TV show,

    Except that this article is not about a popular TV show.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2019 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Tim even specifically states that "Seaver frankly popularized the nickname Tom Terrific in the sporting world." That qualifier certainly indicates that he's aware of other prior uses of the name

    There is no indication of that, and saying "Seaver, the original Tom Terrific" would appear to call that assumption into question.

    Techdirt frequently notes that trademarks are market-specific.

    Since the two Toms played completely different sports, there could arguably be as little confusion between them as between the original cartoon Tom Terrific in market specificity.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2019 @ 5:20pm

    I thought everyone called him Tom Deflation.

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

  13. identicon
    Pixelation, 11 Jun 2019 @ 6:17pm

    Re:

    "I thought everyone called him Tom Deflation."

    He needs some BlueChew for his balls to help prevent that.

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

  14. identicon
    Glenn, 12 Jun 2019 @ 3:03am

    You don't get to pick your own nickname.

    In future Brady will be known as Tom the Lesser.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2019 @ 4:56am

    I give this story two Whaa! Whaa's! and a yawn.

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

  16. identicon
    Bobvious, 12 Jun 2019 @ 6:03am

    Here's the story, of a Tom named Brady,

    tried to trademark a nickname he don't own,
    but his actions were really not terrific,
    so they said "Hey Tom", go out and get your own.

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

  17. icon
    Thad (profile), 12 Jun 2019 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Since the two Toms played completely different sports, there could arguably be as little confusion between them as between the original cartoon Tom Terrific in market specificity.

    You're being increasingly selective in your interpretation of the article. Again, the trademark application is "for trading cards, sports merch, and clothing." Which I noted literally one sentence after the part of my post you're quoting.

    Trading cards, sports merch, and clothing. No qualifier for "football only, leaving the name still available for baseball-related items in those categories."

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

  18. icon
    Thad (profile), 12 Jun 2019 @ 9:24am

    Re:

    Protip: If you ever see an article on the Internet, and find yourself asking, "Hey, should I write a post in the comments to let everyone know I don't care about the thing this story is about?"

    The answer is "No." It's always "No."

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

  19. identicon
    Kevin Hayden, 12 Jun 2019 @ 10:17am

    A possible solution for Brady

    Since Brady is claiming that he's only trademarking the name to prevent others from using it, maybe he should do the honourable thing and trademark it on Tom Seaver's behalf instead. Solves his problem of being referred to as 'Tom Terrific' and also does something nice for Seaver who in most people's opinion is the real 'Tom Terrific'.

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2019 @ 10:18am

    Why would you even bother to trademark a name if you (incorrectly) thought that this would magically stop people from calling you a name you didn't like.

    I'm going to guess that he was given bad advice by lawyers salivating over the billable hours and "infringement" settlement payments.

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

  21. icon
    Paul (profile), 12 Jun 2019 @ 10:39am

    Poll the average American sports fan and ask them who Tom Terrific is and the overwhelmingly consistent answer you will get is Tom Seaver.

    I'm going to call bull on that claim. Considering he hasn't played in over 40 years, the overwhelming answer would probably be I don't know, followed by Tom Seaver.

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

  22. icon
    Thad (profile), 12 Jun 2019 @ 10:48am

    Re: A possible solution for Brady

    Solves his problem of being referred to as 'Tom Terrific'

    Well no, it doesn't; trademarks don't work that way.

    It could stop other people from selling clothing, trading cards, and sports merchandise that say "Tom Terrific" on them, but it won't stop people from referring to him by that name in conversation, news coverage, etc.

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

  23. identicon
    I.T. Guy, 12 Jun 2019 @ 10:58am

    Re:

    Tom Terrific ran in a series of five-minute cartoons created specifically for the Captain Kangaroo show from 1957-1959.

    Then later in 62 a bi-weekly run for a "couple years."

    We should just call him Tom Terrible©

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

  24. identicon
    I.T. Guy, 12 Jun 2019 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re:

    LOL. Internet... Meet Chad, Chad, Internet.

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

  25. identicon
    Sharur, 12 Jun 2019 @ 12:41pm

    Re: "Moron"

    To be fair, is it moronic to say "Hey, I don't like this nickname"?

    Because I feel that it is almost certainly that is the limit of his involvement, seeing as per, the article, the trademark wasn't applied for my Brady personally, but buy his company. I feel that since it almost certain that a bunch of other people, presumably including a lawyer, that is where are general ire should fall, especially if we want this kind of **** to stop.

    I don't care for Brady (or any athlete for that matter) but I don't think he should be insulted for the failure of another, especially when that person is (presumably) a member of a trained, tested and licensed class of professionals (a lawyer).

    As for Trump: I wouldn't put any real weight, positive or negative into a Trump endorsement. If Brady said anything that Trump thought was "against him" he'd lash out with any and all hellfire at his disposal, at the drop of a hat. See pretty much half of his twitter posts (the other half being self-aggrandizement).

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

  26. icon
    Thad (profile), 12 Jun 2019 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: "Moron"

    To be fair, is it moronic to say "Hey, I don't like this nickname"?

    Because I feel that it is almost certainly that is the limit of his involvement, seeing as per, the article, the trademark wasn't applied for my Brady personally, but buy his company.

    Did you miss the last half of the article, where it cites Brady specifically stating that he was trying to trademark it so people would stop using it?

    I don't care for Brady (or any athlete for that matter) but I don't think he should be insulted for the failure of another, especially when that person is (presumably) a member of a trained, tested and licensed class of professionals (a lawyer).

    Even assuming your "Tom Brady had nothing to do with this" theory were true (and, it bears repeating, it isn't, and you do not appear to have finished reading the article), your argument seems to be that a man should not be held responsible for the actions of people he has hired to represent him. That's a pretty silly stance to take.

    As for Trump: I wouldn't put any real weight, positive or negative into a Trump endorsement. If Brady said anything that Trump thought was "against him" he'd lash out with any and all hellfire at his disposal, at the drop of a hat. See pretty much half of his twitter posts (the other half being self-aggrandizement).

    The theme of your post seems to be that none of Tom Brady's decisions are Tom Brady's fault.

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


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