Trademark and Copyright Issues in the Superbowl

Okay, I am going to ruin the Superbowl for everyone, by talking about some random legal issue that arises out of the “big game”.  When it comes to the Super Bowl, most people concern themselves with planning parties, ordering pizza and drinking beer.  Me, on the other hand, I see a giant trademark issue.

You may have noticed that some advertisers do not use the term “Superbowl” in connection with their advertisements.  They refer to the Superbowl as the “Big Game” or something similar.  The reason… they do not have the right to use the term “Superbowl”.  Several years ago, the NFL obtained a trademark on the term Superbowl.  You can find the trademark registration by going to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.  I understand that the NFL also holds a copyright on the term “Superbowl”, but was unable to confirm that on the United States Copyright Office.

In any event, the NFL’s trademark on the term “Superbowl” allows them significant control over the mark “Superbowl.”  Granted, there are various exceptions, but they are few and far between.  As a result, if you want to use the term “Superbowl”, you need to pay the NFL for the right… in other words, you need to buy a license to use the term “Superbowl” in connection with your advertising.  If, you use the mark “Superbowl” without paying for it, you can be subject to a lawsuit brought to you courtesy of the NFL.

If you are interested in this issue you can read more about it here.

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