The seemingly short-sighted and monopolistic National Football League (“NFL”) has done itself a disservice for limiting the commercial use of the term “Super Bowl.” Before the NFL regularly seemed to enforce its copyright and/or trademark moratorium on using the “Super Bowl” name in commercial speech and discussions, during the weeks leading up to the “Super Bowl,” that game was all most anyone talked about prior to the football game. Now, with the NFL’s hard-line copyright/trademark agenda, no one even mentions the “Super Bowl” game is nearing game time.
For the most part, the game is no longer mentioned on radio airwaves, commercials, or anywhere else for that matter - other than news and sports broadcasts. If the game is mentioned on the radio, it’s merely spoken of as “the big game,” or the like. Mostly because broadcasters fear having to pay royalties for mentioning the event by its “Super Bowl” name. (See: “Is Super Bowl Protected by Trademark or Copyright Law? Try Both.”; located at: https://www.broadcastlawblog.com/2012/01/articles/is-super-bowl-protected-by-trademark-or-copyright-law-try-both/ . Also see: “Be careful with the phrase 'Super Bowl' in marketing; NFL has the trademark”; located at: https://www.startribune.com/be-careful-with-the-phrase-super-bowl-in-marketing-campaigns-nfl-has-the-trademark/446916483/ . Finally, see: “Super Bowl Advertising Guidelines: The Do’s And Don’ts for Marketers”, located at: https://www.themotherhood.com/super-bowl-advertising-guidelines/.)
I understand the legalities of trademark law, both common law and the Lanham Act as well. (See: “U.S. Trademark Law: Rules of Practice & Federal Statute”, located at: https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/laws . Also maybe see: “U.S. Army Department Prepares for War with the “VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS” – a Brief Note.”, located at: https://engineeringandcommerce.blogspot.com/2018/03/us-army-department-prepares-for-war.html .) I likely even understand much of copyright law and copyright protection, mostly anyhow. Of course, I also basically understand the concepts of “fair use” (See: “Fact Sheet: Protecting a Trademark. Fair Use of Trademarks”, located at: https://www.inta.org/fact-sheets/fair-use-of-trademarks-intended-for-a-non-legal-audience/ . Also see: “More Information on Fair Use”, https://www.copyright.gov/fair-use/more-info.html .) And. I maybe even understand any other “newsworthiness exception” – to whatever extent these doctrines might apply to this noncommercial blog topic.
But in spite of all those legal protections, it is my opinion that the NFL has done itself no favors by stifling the free advertising it would otherwise receive when anyone would be free to relay pre-game thoughts and to address those thoughts by the game’s “Super Bowl” name. Compound this lack of free advertisements by our awareness that the NFL may not have the unbridled clout with the nation’s populace as it once enjoyed. That popularity with the nation was, of course, prior to the NFL introducing politics into its arenas as a precursor to the football game – with the millionaire football players kneeling and protesting against our nation during the obligatory pre-game rendition of the national anthem, for whatever the reason of the protests.
Regardless, in my opinion, the NFL is still in the entertainment business and surely generates more dollars for its offerings by having more viewers and more advertising “buzz,” (so to speak) which typically leads to more viewers. I mean…, the NFL is not in the business of selling “Kleenex” or “Aspirin” or novels wherein others using their products’ names cuts-into the original trademark/copyright owner’s financial bottom line or turf (pardon the lame pun, if you would). There is still only one “Super Bowl,” in other words, after all. Unless maybe we include the likes of Massachusetts High School football. (See: http://www.mhsfca.net/super-bowl-history.html .) Then again, maybe the mighty NFL is not fearful of anyone confusing the Massachusetts State High School football championship for the NFL’s “Super Bowl.”
Ironically, I must wonder if I am creating any personal liability with the use of the “Super Bowl” term here in this blog entry. So, like…, maybe the NFL will sue me? Like…., not that I really care, of course. ‘Cause I ain't paying the NFL any royalties for using the term anyhow. Then again, maybe the NFL will go after Google and force it to remove this blog entry. (Google owns this blogspot/blogger platform. Unless maybe I can purchase my blog domain names, as Google once offered long ago.) And thereby, such thoughts and fears of liability highlight the unseemliness of the whole matter concerning the NFL’s copyright/trademark issue of forbidding the use of the “Super Bowl” term. Maybe it is an example of such, anyhow.
The NFL’s effort to get more money or protect their copyright/trademark – or however the NFL rationalizes it all, has only worked to the detriment of all concerned if popularity of the event is what they actually seek. In the modern world, any attempts to prevent “buzz” or talk of one’s product is only to the detriment of the entity offering the product. Or at least so the matter seems in the case of the NFL and use of the term “Super Bowl.”
(February 3, 2021. A few days before Super Bowl ?̅ ?̅ - whatever number I don’t know because nothing about the game is ever mentioned on the radio stations to which I listen - with the "big game" being between quarterback Tom Brady’s new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Kansas City Chiefs.)