Ever wonder why so many brands and advertisements refer to the Super Bowl as “the Big Game?”
Well, here’s a fun fact for you: the NFL has registered trademarks for the terms “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday” (and many more!). And apparently, the NFL is known to take aggressive action if their trademarks are used without permission in a commercial context.
If you were thinking about using the “Super Bowl” in connection with any of your sales, promotions, or advertisements this weekend, you had better think again.
Businesses and brands must take special care before publishing advertisements or running promotions that refer to the Super Bowl. Your “Super Bowl Super Sale” may land you in some super hot water with the NFL. The same goes for your “Super Sunday Giveaway.”
The biggest takeaway is this: in the NFL’s opinion, you can’t use “Super Bowl” or any of their other trademarks for any commercial or promotional purposes like parties or special events, advertisements, promotions, giveaways, etc.
We saw just how serious the NFL takes their trademarks back in 2008 when a church in Indiana received a cease and desist letter from the NFL after selling $3 tickets to a Super Bowl party.
Privately, us normal people can use the phrase “Super Bowl” without issue, as long as there’s no financial or commercial intent involved. You can throw a “Super Bowl Party” and invite all your friends on Facebook just as you can throw a Frozen-themed party for your kids. Just don’t charge your guests admission.
So what can you do if you want to cash-in on this weekend and do some special promotions?
Well, we know it’s safe to use the “Big Game.” The NFL, and even the XFL, tried to trademark the phrase once upon a time, but neither resulted in a registration.
The “Superb Owl” was suggested in recent years by Stephen Colbert. I’m especially partial to that one.
Or, as any good trademark lawyer would suggest, get creative and make up something new!