“Super Bowl” vs. “Big Game”

On Behalf of Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd & Gin LLP

Why do so many commercials avoid saying the words “Super Bowl?”

It is simple – the National Football League has trademarked the term “Super Bowl.” Trademark infringement is “the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.”

But how is selling furniture and big screen TV’s “likely to cause confusion” as the law requires? There are two reasons other companies do not push the NFL on this issue. 1) the NFL loves to have “official sponsors,” and the confusion may come from unofficial vs official sponsors (in other words, officials sponsors pay to be official sponsors and the NFL has to protect that revenue stream). 2) Is it wise to spend the money to find out? The NFL made over $13.3 billion last year according to Forbes.

As a result, instead of picking a fight with $13.3 billion bulldozer, companies use “Big Game” or “Pro Football Championship” or something else everyone knows is equivalent to “Super Bow’l” in their ads which is perfectly legal.

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