February 03, 2017

Patriots Trademarks and the Big Game

Once again, my team is in the Big Game. I can't help but think back to 2008 when the undefeated Patriots lost to the Giants. Perhaps the fact that they filed trademark applications for "19-0" and "PERFECT SEASON" days before the Big Game jinxed them.

Ironically, despite defeat, the Patriots continued to prosecute their trademark applications for the past nine years. Yes, you read that correctly...9 long years! The Patriots were persistent in their prosecution, battling a suspension and negotiating a surrender of another registration for 19-0 THE PERFECT SEASON, which stood in the Kraft Group's way to the end zone of registration. The Kraft Group also took the maximum five extension of time to demonstrate use of the marks. The Kraft Group has finally shown use of the marks in connection with the goods and services in these applications, which include pre-recorded dvds, calendars, clothes, and playing cards.

These trademark applications might fall into the category of what we know to be alternative facts. Admittedly, the Patriots have yet to have a perfect season, and the Miami Dolphins are the only NFL team to actually have a perfect season. If an NFL team other than the Patriots ever does go 19-0, they will have to seek a license from the Kraft Group in order to use the mark.

The Patriots will not have a perfect season this year, but my household will still be hoping for a New England win in the Big Game.

Patriots Gear

You might be wondering why I keep using the phrase "the Big Game." Use of the term "SUPER BOWL" keeps NFL's trademark lawyers quite busy this time of year. The mark SUPER BOWL is protected by the following federally registered trademarks for various goods and services:

SUPER BOWL, U.S. Reg. No. 846,056

SUPER BOWL, U.S. Reg. No. 882,283


SUPER BOWL, U.S. Reg. No. 2,954,420

SUPER BOWL, U.S. Reg. No. 3,138,590

SUPER BOWL, U.S. Reg. No. 3,343,714

The prominence of the Super Bowl makes it a prime target for unauthorized uses (both intentional and unintentional). The NFL allegedly sends out approximately 100 cease and desist letters a year to businesses advertising Super Bowl specials. To avoid becoming the recipient of one of the NFL's cease and desist letters, it is best to avoid using the term to advertise any products or services. Substituting the "Big Game" for the term "Super Bowl" is an alternative. This strategy was once explained in a Samsung ad with Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen: