The Big Game

Notice how in the last few years all the advertising has started referring to the mysterious “Big Game”? That’s because the NFL has sicced lawyers on marketers who refer to the “Super Bowl” without paying merchandising fees to the NFL, including suing Las Vegas casinos that offered Super Bowl parties or special weekend rates for the Super Bowl or contest promoters that offered Super Bowl tickets. (Eriq Gardner, “Super Bowl, Super Trademarks: Protecting the NFL’s IP”, Hollywood Reporter Esq., Jan. 29 via Lattman).

(Update: Frequent commenter Deoxy points us to this similarly-themed Indianapolis Star story.)

Those new referee uniforms the NFL implemented this year have a similar intellectual property provenance. The NFL apparently was concerned at the spate of advertising that used referees in the generic referee stripes, and decided to create a unique look that it could slap a trademark on and potentially market later.


  • Viral marketing, people.

    Was it on Overlawyered that I read last year about, I think it was Universal Studios who sued their own viral marketers?

    [Yes. — TF]

  • Laaaaaaaame.

    Next, they’ve TM “the Big Game”. It’s so stupid.

  • Yeah, then the NFL will start running down hunting lodges, guides, etc. because of their mis-use of “Big Game.”

    I’ve heard about how, when the Olympic Games come to town, their lawyers start in on businesses that trade on the name Olympic (or like) because they could capitalize on the association with the games’ brand. Though I would thoroughly dread (and strongly consider evacuation during) any arrival of the Olympic Games in Seattle where I currently reside, I’ve idly wondered how successful they could be with those tactics, as Seattle is just a few miles across the water from the Olympic Peninsula, a mountainous landmass dominated by the lovely Mt. Olympus. As a result, there are thousands of businesses with Olympic in their name, all over the area; everything from apartment buildings to restaurants, and the whole length and breadth of the sports market, from supplies to trophies to cheap beer. (Cheap beer is sports-related, right?)

    Anyway, I suspect any attempts at brand bullying could meet some resistance in our state’s capital city, Olympia.

  • I represent all zebras living and/or dead and I am suing the NFL over it’s use of “black” and “white” stripes. It has taken millions of years for my clients to develope this uniform and they will not stand idly by while a corporation shows no regard for their innovation and hard work in evolving. Evolution doesn’t just happen.

  • Found this recently, too…

    Sportsbars can show “the big game” for their guests, but not churches… anybody care to make sense of that? Other than that churches are seen as punching bags, I mean.

  • Maybe the NFL should dress the referees like lawyers, in three-piece suits, and have them throw subpoenas, rather than penalty flags, for on-field infractions.

  • […] means, for the NFL, aggressive deployment of trademark lawyers time. Earlier here, here, here, here, here, here, and […]