July 29, 2014

Trademark Trick Play- The Music City Miracle

by Guest Blogger


Football season is upon us! Yesterday, we ran over to watch the Tennessee Titans' first full-pads practice. This was my first open practice and I wasn't expecting much, but it was actually a good time. I recommend catching an NFL open practice if you have a chance.

The excitement of the upcoming season and the new coaching staff got me thinking about the Titans' trademarks. So, I checked out the USPTO website to see what the team had registered. There were several interesting things over there (which we'll get to in later posts), but the trademark that first caught my eye was for the phrase "Music City Miracle" used in conjunction with several different goods and services. Most trademarks are created specifically for branding and marketing purposes. "Music City Miracle," however, was not created for marketing purposes. It was the name given to the most amazing play in Titans franchise history. For those who don't remember, here's what happened.

The Music City Miracle occurred on January 8, 2000, in Nashville in the AFC wild card game between the Buffalo Bills and the Titans. Trailing 16-15 with 16 seconds left to play, the Titans called a gadget play, which they referred to as the "Home Run Throwback." Fullback Lorenzo Neal caught a Bills kickoff and handed off the ball to tight end Frank Wycheck who threw a cross-field lateral* to receiver Kevin Dyson. Dyson ran the ball 75 yards for a touchdown and a Titans win. The play is considered one of the best in NFL history. The Titans would go on to win the AFC Championship and play in the Super Bowl. A video of the blessed event can be found here.

Although the Titans did not create the Music City Miracle trademark for branding purposes, the team capitalized on a fortuitous turn of events and registered the trademark with the USPTO. So, the Music City Miracle will live on forever, not just in the hearts and minds of Titans fans, but in the licensing fees paid to use the trademark.

*Buffalo Bills fans can air their incorrect view that Wycheck threw an illegal forward pass in the comments below. Do not, however, make negative comments about the Titans to directly to Frank Wycheck, in light of the video below.

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