Imagine taking the NFL’s grandest showdown, placing it in one of the world’s most iconic entertainment hubs, inviting Grammy-winning talent to headline the halftime show, and adding a surprise appearance by the Time’s Person of the Year, who quite literally flew backward in time to attend. What do you get? Super Bowl LVIII’s enchanting magic, that’s what.
The highly anticipated event is all set for an epic faceoff featuring the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs going head-to-head with the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. The stage is none other than the dazzling Allegiant Stadium, situated right on the vibrant Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada.
The commercials are always our favorite, but we can’t WAIT to see what the incredible entertainer and popstar, Usher, plans to do during the game’s middle mark. His trademark (no pun intended) choreography and hottest hits list is sure to have us singing– YEAH, YEAH, YEAH!
All fun aside, my annual Super Bowl trademark advisory does not change. It’s important to remember the NFL’s stringent stance on protecting its brand. This year is no different. Sponsors continue to pay the NFL millions of dollars to be associated with the America’s biggest football game. Super Bowl sponsorships are the NFL’s biggest revenue generator and businesses are always vying to be a part of it and are willing to spend lots of money. The NFL rigorously enforces its trademark rights, ensuring that any infringement is swiftly addressed with legal action.
However, there are ways non-sponsors can use the fun of the Super Bowl in their advertising without getting into big trouble. The trick is to collaborate with an experienced attorney to learn the “dos” and “don’ts.” One absolute “don’t” is the use of team names, logos, Super Bowl Sunday, and Super Sunday, and many more. These marks are exclusively reserved for use by the official NFL sponsors.
To be clear, it is always okay to use these marks in an editorial way when you are talking about the Super Bowl. For example, “I watched the 49ers beat the Chiefs on the road to the Super Bowl LVIII.” The problem is when you are using these marks to promote your business in advertising. You cannot say, “Come get your Super Bowl LVII special at Joe Smith’s motorcycle dealership.”
One thing that is okay to include in a business promotion is to include the names of cities of the teams. It is okay to say, “Come get your Kansas City special at Joe Smith’s motorcycle dealership.” Another thing that is permitted is to congratulate your team on winning or making it to the Super Bowl. For example, it’s okay to put up a billboard that says, “Joe Smith’s motorcycle dealership wishes the San Fransico 49ers good luck in Super Bowl LVII.”
An interesting fact about what you can do is that you are allowed to make fun of the fact that you cannot say Super Bowl or team names. Many businesses have produced creative and funny ways to do this in their advertising. The bottom line is that businesses are limited to their advertising tying in the Super Bowl if they are not official sponsors, but with some creativity and legal help businesses can have fun with what they are left to use without running afoul of trademark infringement.
As an intellectual property attorney in New Jersey and Philadelphia focused on protecting brands and the works of incredibly talented artists, I will leave you with the most important thing to remember – GO TAYLOR SWIFT!!!
If you need any guidance on this issue, please contact Carrie Ward at (856) 354-7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.