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The NFL makes super efforts to protect The Big Game

Readers of our entertainment law blogs who are football fans obviously know what we’re alluding to at The Law Offices of Barry K. Rothman when we refer to the Big Game. That 50-year-plus annual American spectacle is more commonly termed the Super Bowl. Legions of Los Angeles area residents are likely taking a special interest in the game this year, with the LA Rams vying for the title.

So-called Super Sunday is the virtual Holy Grail for the network airing the contest, as well as for legions of business advertisers happy to fork over $1 million or more for a 60-second ad.

And, oh yes, the National Football League stands to rake in a bit of cash from the handful-plus of television hours devoted to the extravaganza (e.g., a reported $1 billion-plus alone just from the network).

League officials jealously guard those dollars, which means that the NFL is like a focused team of Doberman Pinschers when it comes to safeguarding its Super Bowl name and other trademarked property linked with it.

To wit: Use that name in an ad or promotion without first dealing with the NFL and expect a quick visit from league attorneys. Make even an arguably cryptic reference to anything Bowl-linked in that context and expect the same.

A recent article on the Super Bowl and its apex position in sports advertising makes the obvious point that that “the NFL is extremely aggressive in protecting its golden goose from [efforts to] trade off the goodwill associated with the game.”

Indeed, the league once sent a cease-and-desist letter to a local church group showing the game and charging a mere three bucks to viewers to cover snack outlays.

Here’s a word of advice: Go ahead and invite people over to the house to watch the Big Game this Sunday (that usage remains free for public use). Just don’t charge them or connect anything you do to the contest, absent the league’s permission. Otherwise you might get an unwanted knock on the door by halftime.

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