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Can We Finally Attend a 'Super Bowl' Party Instead of a 'Big Game' Party?

Most football fans or even just regular shoppers have probably noticed around this time each year that Super Bowl-themed sales (for TVs, pizzas, chips, whatever) are quite common. But most of the time, ads for these sales cryptically refer to the event in question as the "Big Game" or something other than what everyone knows it is. 

Why? As discussed in this post by Ken Basin on LawLawLand, the phrase “Super Bowl” is trademarked by the NFL. The NFL allows its advertisers and partners to use the phrase in their marketing, but is "famously protective" when others try to use it, Basin writes. Basin argues that the NFL's legal position is flawed, however, and that your local church or bar should be allowed to host a "Super Bowl party" if it wants to under the “nominative fair use” doctrine.

In short, Basin writes, 

Courts recognize that it’s virtually impossible to refer to particular products or services without using protected trademarks — how can I review the new Apple iPad without using the words “Apple” or “iPad”? That’s why the law allows the public to freely use a protected trademark nominatively, i.e., to describe the product or service underlying the mark, often in the only way that makes any sense. We lawyers call this idea the "nominative fair use" doctrine.

He adds that a former Playboy Playmate was able to win a lawsuit brought against her by Playboy for referring to herself as a former Playboy Playmate of the Year because "she was a former Playboy Playmate of the Year, and the law didn’t require her to refer to herself as “the Erstwhile Most Prominent Model for a Certain Well-Known Men’s Publication Featuring Highly Airbrushed Disrobed Ladies.”

So enjoy the Big Game that will determine the championship of the NFL!

Posted by Bruce Carton on February 5, 2011 at 04:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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