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Linsanity: pop culture again leads to rash of trademark filings

Posted by ipelton on: February 17th, 2012

Another sports/pop culture story has generated the filing of several trademark applications in just one week. Jeremy Lin is on the New York Knicks basketball team. In recent seasons he has bounced around a few NBA teams and the NBA’s minor leagues, the “Developmental League.” He played for Harvard in college, graduating in 2010. He is one of the few Asian-Americans to play in the NBA.

And he has had one of the greatest weeks in sports – perhaps the greatest in recent memory for an unheard of player. In his first 5 games as a starter, the Knicks went undefeated, as Lin led the team and hit game winning shots. Two weeks ago, few people knew who he was. Now he is making headlines in papers and news shows around the country.

And he has a name that is easy to make puns with! Here are some of the shirts available on Zazzle.com:

All I Do is Lin

Ohhhh the Linsanity

NY Bal-Lin’

I’m All Lin

Linning

As noted on this blog before, pop culture and sports stories often lead to a rash of trademark filings by those seeking to cash in. In recent memory, Charlie Sheen, Occupy Wall Street, Tim Tebow, Hurricane Irene, and the baby of Jay-Z and Beyonce have all generated trademark filings. And now we can add Jeremy Lin to the list. Here are some of the trademark applications filed in the last 10 days [click mark for USPTO records]:

Linning - Short-sleeved or long-sleeved t-shirts

LINsanity - A-shirts; Apparel for dancers, namely, tee shirts, sweatshirts, pants, leggings, shorts and jackets; Athletic apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, athletic uniforms; Baseball caps and hats; Body shirts; Button down shirts; Button-front aloha shirts; Camouflage shirts; Camp shirts; Chef’s hats; Clothing for athletic use, namely, padded shirts; Clothing for babies, toddlers and children, treated with fire and heat retardants, namely, pajamas, jackets, shirts, pants, jumpers; Clothing shields, namely, pads applied to the underarms of shirts, blouses and sweaters; Collared shirts; Dress shirts; Fishing shirts; Fur hats; Golf pants, shirts and skirts; Golf shirts; Hat bands; Hats; Hats for infants, babies, toddlers and children; Headgear, namely, hats; Hooded sweat shirts; Hunting shirts; Knit shirts; Leather hats; Leather shirts; Long-sleeved shirts; Moisture-wicking sports shirts; Night shirts; Open-necked shirts; Over shirts; Paper hats for use as clothing items; Party hats; Perspiration absorbent strap to be used in the bill of a hat; Pique shirts; Polo shirts; Rain hats; Rugby shirts; Scientific and technological apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, uniforms; Sedge hats (suge-gasa); Shirt fronts; Shirt inserts, namely, dickies; Shirt yokes; Shirts; Shirts and short-sleeved shirts; Shirts and slips; Shirts for infants, babies, toddlers and children; Shirts for suits; Short-sleeved or long-sleeved t-shirts; Short-sleeved shirts; Sleep shirts; Sleeves worn separate and apart from blouses, shirts and other tops; Small hats; Snap crotch shirts for infants and toddlers; Sport shirts; Sports caps and hats; Sports shirts; Sports shirts with short sleeves; Sweat shirts; T-shirts; T-shirts for sale; Tee shirts; Toboggan hats, pants and caps; Triathlon clothing, namely, triathlon tights, triathlon shorts, triathlon singlets, triathlon shirts, triathlon suits; Turtle neck shirts; Wearable garments and clothing, namely, shirts; Wind shirts; Women’s clothing, namely, shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses; Women’s hats and hoods; Woolly hats; Yoga shirts

Lin-sanity - Athletic apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, athletic uniforms; Hats; Jackets

Lin-credible - Hats; Jackets; Shirts

Linsanity - Athletic apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, athletic uniforms

LINSATION - apparel goods; full line of apparel goods; A-shirts; Apparel for dancers, namely, tee shirts, sweatshirts, pants, leggings, shorts and jackets; Athletic apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, athletic uniforms; Baseball caps and hats; Body shirts; Button down shirts; Button-front aloha shirts; Camouflage shirts; Camp shirts; Chef’s hats; Clothing for athletic use, namely, padded shirts; Clothing for babies, toddlers and children, treated with fire and heat retardants, namely, pajamas, jackets, shirts, pants, jumpers; Clothing shields, namely, pads applied to the underarms of shirts, blouses and sweaters; Collared shirts; Dress shirts; Fishing shirts; Fur hats; Golf pants, shirts and skirts; Golf shirts; Hat bands; Hats; Hats for infants, babies, toddlers and children; Headgear, namely, hats; Hooded sweat shirts; Hunting shirts; Knit shirts; Leather hats; Leather shirts; Long-sleeved shirts; Moisture-wicking sports shirts; Night shirts; Open-necked shirts; Over shirts; Paper hats for use as clothing items; Party hats; Perspiration absorbent strap to be used in the bill of a hat; Pique shirts; Polo shirts; Rain hats; Rugby shirts; Scientific and technological apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, uniforms; Sedge hats (suge-gasa); Shirt fronts; Shirt inserts, namely, dickies; Shirt yokes; Shirts; Shirts and short-sleeved shirts; Shirts and slips; Shirts for infants, babies, toddlers and children; Shirts for suits; Short-sleeved or long-sleeved t-shirts; Short-sleeved shirts; Sleep shirts; Sleeves worn separate and apart from blouses, shirts and other tops; Small hats; Snap crotch shirts for infants and toddlers; Sport shirts; Sports caps and hats; Sports shirts; Sports shirts with short sleeves; Sweat shirts; T-shirts. T-shirts for sale; Tee shirts; Toboggan hats, pants and caps; Triathlon clothing, namely, triathlon tights, triathlon shorts, triathlon singlets, triathlon shirts, triathlon suits; Turtle neck shirts; Wearable garments and clothing, namely, shirts; Wind shirts; Women’s clothing, namely, shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses; Women’s hats and hoods; Woolly hats; Yoga shirts

 A friend of mine shared this photo of the “Jeremy Lin-Mint” special at a “Shake Shack” in New York this week:

These tributes to Lin and efforts to cash in on his success and his name raise some interesting trademark issues. How much control should he have over his name? If he has not endorsed the Shake Shack product, is there an infringement? Are the clothing sellers infringing any rights?

Who ultimately has the rights – if anyone does – to control use of the puns in marketing and sales for profit? Jeremy Lin? The New York Knicks? What if ESPN or some other news source was the first to use “Linsanity” as a phrase, could they claim any rights?

 Basic American Apparel T-Shirt

Image by Rob Carr/Getty Images

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