Whether you’re a diehard football fan or just a casual observer, you’ve probably recognized that, leading up to the Super Bowl, many companies advertise their Super Bowl deals not using the actual phrase “Super Bowl” but using the phrase “The Big Game.” However, this is not a matter of choice. The NFL has held trademark rights over “Super Bowl” and several like phrases since 1969. As a result, the NFL has been able to control who can use the phrase “Super Bowl” for many years. Thus, in order to utilize the term “Super Bowl,” your company must be an official sponsor or licensee of the NFL, which usually comes at a steep price. Companies who are not an official sponsor or licensee of the NFL but who do utilize the term “Super Bowl” likely have to change their advertisement or marketing strategy and even face a risk of legal action by the NFL. Consequently, many articles are written each year warning companies to be careful of how they market their Super Bowl deals. One prominent trademark lawyer, Michael Stabbe, even sends out an annual explanation of how to avoid irritating the NFL in the weeks leading to the Super Bowl.
This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on March 7, 2022. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.
Semaya, Scott, "The NFL’s Trademark Rights Over “Super Bowl”: Does it Give them an Unfair Advantage?" (2022). AELJ Blog. 314.