Madden 16: Playing for Trademark Protection

Earlier this week, Madden NFL 16 was released. The popular video game franchise developed by EA Sports and named after John Madden was launched in 1988 as “John Madden Football” and rebranded as “Madden” in 1993. In 2005, EA and John Madden agreed to a lifetime deal related to use of his name for the game. Surprisingly, it was not until last year that either party sought trademark protection for “Madden.” In April 2014, a company that manages John Madden’s assets filed several trademark applications on his famous surname, including applications for MADDEN for video game cartridges and providing an on-line computer game.

The problem is, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office routinely refuses registration where the applied-for trademark is “primarily merely a surname.” John Madden learned this the hard way after receiving initial rejections from the USPTO on two of his MADDEN trademarks based their surname significance. In order to overcome the objections, John Madden must now show that his MADDEN marks have acquired “secondary meaning” or a meaning over and above their surname significance.

I have a sneaking suspicion Madden will be able to do so considering more than 110 million copies of the game bearing his name have been sold to date. But enough about trademarks. Get pumped for the new game and upcoming NFL season with this ridiculous commercial for Madden 16.