January 28, 2015

Football's Trademark Completions And Fumbles

by Guest Blogger

By the time this weekend is over, you will suffer from branding overload. The Super Bowl's alter ego could be known as Trademark Day. Football branding includes not only the notorious commercials for top consumer brands and the stadium blimp but also the licensed merchandise with team logos that Amy wrote about yesterday (and probably some counterfeits too) and even the branded team uniforms and cleats. So grab your favorite brand of "official sponsor" beer and chips as we look at some of the trademark successes and failures of the football industry.

What trademarks can you register for your brand?

Trademarks can be anything that identifies a source. Usually, this is your brand name (NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS), your logo (such as the Seaha


wks' bird head design shown left), or your slogan (ESPN's tagline THE WORLDWIDE LEADER IN SPORTS). Anything that is distinctive that identifies your brand of products or services can be a trademark and can be registered to better ensure it remains your exclusive brand.

What trademarks have completed registration?

Smurf Turf

The football industry's trademark registrations run the gamut, starting with the NFL's registration of SUPER BOWL® down to the individual players. Each team has multiple trademark registrations for their team name and logo. My favorite football trademark is Boise State's registration for its blue football field aka the "smurf turf".

Players also have a number of registrations for their own personal brand. Many players have filed trademark applications over the years to try to leverage a catch phrase or even a pose. These usually first show up on t-shirts.

Seattle Seahawks' running back Marshawn Lynch owns a registration for BEAST MODE for clothing. If you have ever seen him in action, that nickname explains itself.

Beast Mode

New England Patriots' running back LeGarrette Blount just received a trademark registration for BLOUNT FORCE TRAUMA

Blount Force Trama

also for clothing. Some of this clothing bearing the BLOUNT FORCE TRAUMA mark display an image of brass knuckles:

Which trademarks fumbled?

Leading up to the Super Bowl back in 2008, the New England Patriots had a perfect season. They got a little too cocky and applied to register the mark 19-0 and 19-0 THE PERFECT SEASON. They then lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. The trademark application for 19-0 THE PERFECT SEASON is still pending examination but won't be realized for this Super Bowl.


The biggest trademark dispute in the football industry heated up this past summer when the Washington Redskins had their trademark registrations for REDSKINS cancelled by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on the grounds that the team name and logo are disparaging. The team is appealing, and it remains to be seen whether they will change their name in the face of increased pressure.

What's in store for Super Bowl 2016?

Next year, the Super Bowl will be played in San Francisco at the new Levi's Stadium. Levi Strauss & Co. reportedly agreed to pay $220 million dollars over 20 years for the naming rights. Levi's is losing no time leveraging its stadium deal and has filed trademark applications for the marks FIELD OF JEANS and WIN ONE FOR THE ZIPPER.

Levi Strauss & Co. actually did create a field of jeans. Check it out:

The lawyers at Trademarkology provide trademark registration services backed by the experience and service of one of the nation's oldest law firms. Click here to contact us.