The NFL’s strategy for protecting their intellectual property in the SUPER BOWL® trademark is as powerfully designed as their gameplays on the field at Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Like the NFL, once entrepreneurs, tech startups and digital media companies register their trademark, they hold the right to disable and terminate any user accounts infringing on their trademarks.
NFL Issues Super Bowl® Trademark Cease and Desist Letters
The NFL’s trademark was officially filed in 1969. Since then, the NFL has strictly enforced protecting their SUPER BOWL® from improper use such as unofficial sweepstakes, giveaways, and other merchandise without proper licensing.
What else is trademarked by the NFL? Besides logos used for the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, packaging design, names and nicknames of teams, emblems, and symbols are all trademarked. The NFL holds over 100 trademarks.
Issuing a notice of trademark infringement is within every trademark’s owner’s right to defend their brand value and reputation and, the NFL is no stranger to notices of trademark infringement as they are notoriously known for executing cease and desist letters.
As we near the upcoming SUPER BOWL®, scheduled for Sunday, February 13, 2022, businesses are remaining vigilant to not infringe on the NFL’s U.S. Trademark Registration No. 0882283 for SUPER BOWL®. If an advertisement says, “Load up for Super Bowl” this would activate the NFL’s issuance of a cease and desist. Also, if a product references a player’s name, this would be considered trademark infringement.
NFL Trademark Legal Compliance
On the other hand, using the infamous uniform numbers on a merchandised item is acceptable as well as using ambiguous slogans with slyly specific undertones. Slogans and phrases such as “Big Game Event”, “Massive Bowl Specials”, and “Super Sale” are all legally compliant.
The Importance of Trademark Registration
In addition, The National Football League does not offer to license to small businesses including local restaurants that may use a similar design to the Super Bowl cup to raise money for charity. (see video)
This case illustrates multiple trademark principles important to entrepreneurs, technology startups, small businesses, and digital media companies looking to protect their trademarks from infringement, and establish trademark priority as early as possible in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Because likelihood of confusion can prevent a business from trademark registration it’s important to have foundational knowledge about trademarks and/ or consult with an experienced branding and trademark attorney to maximize your legal brand-protection strategies.