Showing posts with label ITU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ITU. Show all posts

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Trademarking Phrases Among Athletes Raising Eyebrows -- Literally

In the last several years, popular nicknames and phrases associated with star athletes have become the subject of numerous contested trademark applications and ownership disputes.   

Most recently, in June 2012, top NBA draft pick Anthony Davis filed intent-to-use (ITU) trademark applications for "FEAR THE BROW" and "RAISE THE BROW." The athlete is known not only for his star prowess on the court but for his truly prominent "unibrow."  Davis may have taken a lesson from other modern star athletes by getting out ahead of the issue and clarifying brand ownership early.

For example, Jeremy Lin's team of high-priced trademark lawyers have successfully fended off half a dozen applicants for "LINSANITY, New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow's top-notch trademark lawyers battled squatters over rights to TEBOWING and Terrell Suggs has battled others for a phrase BALL SO HARD UNIVERSITY, which he has used to refer to his fictional alma mater.  And we can't forget "THAT'S A CLOWN QUESTION, BRO" is now the subject of a trademark application by Bryce Harper, who used the quip to respond to a reporter's question.

While huge trademark-induced endorsement deals are now common, trademarking popular nicknames and catchy sports phrases is not new, either. Pat Riley obtained a trademark for the term “three-peat” in 1989, when he coached the Los Angeles Lakers. But all of the recent legal activity involving the trademarking of athletes' nicknames leads to the inevitable question:  Would the iconic players of yesteryear been as aggressive in protecting their personal nicknames as brands?

It is impossible to say, of course, but it is worth noting that the late Joe DiMaggio's estate trademarked "JOLTIN' JOE" in 2007 for everything from baby rattles to Christmas tree ornaments.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Can Anheuser-Busch Trademark 3-Letter Airport Codes Such as LGA?

Last year, beer conglomerate Anheuser-Busch/InBev filed multiple "intent to use" trademark applications for 14 U.S. telephone area codes. Now Anheuser-Busch has applied for trademark registrations for 42 U.S. airports, including New York's LaGuardia and JFK airports; Los Angeles International Airport; and San Francisco International Airport. Not surprisingly, the class of goods listed in each filing is "beer."  

The International Air Association Transport Association already owns trademarks on all the airport codes, but trademark law permits the use and filing for trademark registrations for codes if used in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services that are not likely to cause confusion with those preexisting registrations/uses.  Anheuser-Busch's area code trademark applications had previously led to speculation that the company was trying to mimic the success of 312 Urban Wheat Ale, the popular beer by Chicago's Goose Island Beer Company—which Anheuser-Busch bought last year—in cities including New York and Los Angeles.  One can only wonder what type of local beer would be associated with LaGuardia airport, "Overpriced LGA Yellow Cab Ale"?