June 18, 2015

Boston 2024: Olympics Brought to You By Sam Adams?

by Guest Blogger

Sam Adams (not the founding father, the beer company) filed an application to register BOSTON 2024 recently for, well Beer. I don't drink, but I am intrigued by this move because it raises a bunch of odd trademark questions.

Geographic Marks - Lots of odd rules here, but you typically can't lock up the name of a place in a trademark application. Sam Adams has disclaimed protection of the word BOSTON apart from the mark "BOSTON 2024" in the application.

Olympics - I'm already confused. Is Sam Adams working on some kind of deal with the Olympic Committee? I assume so because the Olympics are fairly protective of their marks (they even have a special statute for those fancy rings). Either way, there are going to have to avoid confusing consumers.

Trademark Use - Sam Adams filed the application as intent to use. They will need to begin selling product with the trademark on it to complete this registration (assuming the USPTO approves it). The 2024 Olympics are a long way off though, and you have to start using a mark within three years of allowance. After that, you run out of extensions. Fortunately, they'll likely at least know if Boston is going to be awarded the Olympics before they run out of extensions.

Apparently, half the city (exaggeration) does not want the Olympics in thah fah city. So whaht dahh yah dahh with ah trademahk that angahs people! You can interpret those words using this decoder by wikihow.

Bonus Round - Picking a trademark with the name of a person can get tricky too. You can't typically register a simple surname, but you can register a full name (i.e., Sam Adams). If the person is alive, as you can imagine, you'll need their consent and the mark cannot falsely suggest a connection with the person.

Out of curiosity, I did a search for "2024" trademarks. This revealed a graveyard of trademarks over the upcoming Olympics. LA leads with 7 dead trademark applications for everything from pendants to posters to jewelry. Washington DC is runner up with 3 dead trademark applications for clothing and sponsorship services.

I guess trademark applications are kind of like Olympic bids: if you don't really mean it, don't bother. Otherwise, you'll end up wasting your time and money extending an application that will inevitably expire.