LAWFUEL – Sports Law News Wire – Faced with the opposition of Stanford and Cal, the NFL has changed courses on its efforts to trademark the phrase “The Big Game.” It has decided to punt, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
On Friday it abandoned its applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the phrase.
The NFL had insisted its trademark applications, filed early in 2006, had nothing to do with the Bay Area universities, whose annual football game has been called the Big Game for more than a century.
Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s director of corporate communications, reiterated Wednesday that the targets were companies that engage in so-called ambush marketing of the Super Bowl by referring to it in their advertising as the Big Game.
Stanford and Cal weren’t taking any chances. They filed for extensions with the trademark office in order to prepare their objections.
McCarthy said the applications were withdrawn because they were written more broadly “than the rights were looking to protect.”
He said the league may refile them with language that specifically targets advertising that uses the phrase “the Big Game” to refer to the Super Bowl. “It was never our intent to go after Cal and Stanford,” he said.
Attorneys for the two schools said they were pleased with the withdrawal.
“It’s very clear they had no hope of overcoming our more than 100-year use of the mark,” Cal attorney Mary MacDonald said.