When It Comes to Trademarks, NFL Players are Role Models

In honor of the NFL draft (and rumors swirling about the big moves our hometown Titans might make), I felt obligated to post about the NFL. The NFL has not had a lot of positive coverage this offseason. Role models seem few and far between. But when it comes to trademarks, NFL players should be your role models.

NFL players routinely register their names, nicknames, and other business ventures as trademarks.

Here are a few fun examples:

Tim Tebow

Who remembers “Tebowing”? Because the Heisman winning quarterback owns the trademark.

Considering the polarizing QB just signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after two years on the sidelines, “Tebowing” could be back in style in no time. Tebow’s trademark activities don’t end with the nickname for his well-known pose. He has six pending federal trademark applications related to his name.  In addition, his non-profit, the Tim Tebow Foundation, has a federally registered trademark for its logo.

Aaron Rodgers

The former Super Bowl and league MVP is also a trademark MVP.

He has a federally registered trademark for his name and his signature. Forgers beware!

Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch loves trademarks like he love Skittles. He has multiple registrations for his nickname, BEAST MODE, as well as registrations for his foundation, Fam 1st Family.  He has another 11 pending applications, including my all-time favorite trademark application for I’M JUST HERE SO I WON’T GET FINED. He clearly understands the value of trademarks. I clearly understand the need to include Marshawn Lynch highlights into blog posts to keep people reading.

Jameis Winston

Yes. Even not quite yet NFL players are in on the trademark action. Since February, the likely first overall pick has had a pending application for his nickname, Famous Jameis. Previously, another individual attempted to register FAMOUS JAMEIS as a trademark. That attempt was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Trademark law alert!!!

The USPTO reviews all trademark applications for compliance with federal law and rules. Section 2(c) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1052(c), bars the registration of a mark that consists of or comprises a name, portrait or signature which identifies a particular living individual, except by the written consent of such individual. Section 2(c) applies not only to full names, but also to any first name, surname, shortened name, pseudonym, stage name, title, or nickname that identifies a particular living individual. With respect to the application for the mark FAMOUS JAMEIS that was filed without the Heisman winner’s consent, the USPTO found that the mark “may falsely suggest a connection with James Winston” because the “nickname [] has been widely used in the public media to refer uniquely and unmistakably to Jameis Winston.”

So, two lessons: (1) Do not try to register the name or nickname of another person unless you have their consent; you will not succeed, and (2) be like NFL players and protect your trademarks with federal registrations!