With the Super Bowl coming up, it is important for brands looking to capitalize on football-themed promotions to remember that the terms “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday” are registered trademarks guarded by the National Football League (NFL) more closely than a shutdown corner on a wide receiver. Because there is a fine line between permissible fair uses of Super Bowl and Super Sunday (e.g., in on-air banter and news and sports reports) and impermissible promotional uses that may infringe the NFL’s trademark, here are some guidelines to keep you from going “offsides:”
On September 30, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a statement repealing its sports blackout rule, a rule that the National Football League (NFL) has defended and relied on since 1975. The blackout rule strengthened the NFL’s own blackout policy, which prohibited local broadcast stations from televising a game that did not sell between 85% and 100% of its tickets at least 72 hours before kickoff. Similarly, the FCC rule prohibited cable and satellite operations from airing any game that was blacked out on local broadcast stations. Although the FCC’s rule applied to all sports, the NFL has not only relied upon it the most, but also fought the hardest to preserve the rule.
The Sports, Arts & Entertainment group at Foster Garvey provides full service legal representation on sports, entertainment and business matters, including handling transactions related to brand management, licensing, joint ventures, venture capital, private equity, technology, the Internet and new media.