Teams and Leagues Are Expected to Protect Their Brands…But What About the Athletes?
Thanksgiving brings American families together every year and is not only known for the monstrous food consumption, but for the huge television consumption, too. Roughly 30 Million Americans incorporate watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade into their holiday tradition every year. Last year, around the same number of viewers tuned into the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team game that aired later that day, making it the most watched game of the season to date. All of those eyeballs lead to brands bolstering recognition for their well-established or new trademarks. But what about the marks that might still go hiding in plain sight? The marks that are held by individual athletes themselves.
Surprisingly, the sole word “Thanksgiving” is only registered in three categories, one of which has nothing to do with food: Wines & sparkling wines – No. 7780966, Jerky; meat based snack foods – No. 87467345, and Computer game software for gaming machines, namely, slot machines and video lottery terminals – No. 85969773. “Turkey Day,” another common reference for the holiday, is not currently registered to any owner. Unsurprisingly, the National Football League has various iterations of NFL and all of its many outfits trademarked for safe keeping of its brands. What’s less obvious is the fact that some players taking the field on Turkey Day have their own brands for which they’ve already sought federal trademark protection. The below list has a few examples of the trademark owners who will take the field this holiday and the purposes of their marks.
Game 1: Bears at Lions on FOX (12:30 p.m. ET / 9:30 a.m. PT)
Game 2: Raiders at Cowboys on CBS (4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT)
Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys – 214 No. 90848630 (Entertainer services; sports services) This co-owned mark is the combination of both players jersey numbers, 2 & 14.
Game 3: Bills at Saints on NBC (8:20 p.m. ET / 5:20 p.m. PT)
These fifteen marks held by owners who will be in the Thanksgiving Day games are only a fraction of the marks held by the 1,696 active players on NFL rosters. And there are bound to be more applications for personally branded marks by players as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) become more popular as a means to increase fan interaction and engagement.
At Rockridge®, we know the investment and effort that goes into creating a market presence and developing a quality offering. We help amateur and professional athletes exploit trademark law to position themselves as a top branding player on and off the field.
About Torrey Feldman
Torrey M. Feldman, Esq. attended American University Washington College of Law for her Juris Doctorate in Washington, DC. Prior to law school, she received a Master’s of Science in Communication and Information with a concentration in Sports Journalism from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her legal practice includes amateur and professional sports, entertainment contracts and representation, emerging financial technologies, copyright, trademarks, alternative dispute resolution, and litigation. Read more about Torrey, Connect with her, and Calendly her.
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