Posts Tagged ‘celebrity brands’

Trademark Guide to the NFL Playoffs

Posted by ipelton on: January 9th, 2015

Eight teams remain in the NFL playoffs, with the conference semi-final games this weekend. More and more athletes have realized the value of their brands off the field, and I believe that a  record number of them own trademark registrations or applications today. Many players on the eight remaining team – and even coaches – have USPTO trademark applications or registrations.

Here are some of the highlights [click names/logo for USPTO records]:



  • Aaron Rodgers – Endorsement services, namely, promoting the goods and services of others


  • Trademark image- Sporting goods, namely, footballs


  • REVIS ISLAND – t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, hats, footwear, sleepwear, swimwear
  • Trademark image[Tom Brady] – entertainment and education in the nature of on-going audio visual and multimedia interactive programming providing information on celebrities distributed over a global computer network; Clothing, namely, hats and shirts
  • WILFORK YOU UP - T-shirts


  • HALOTI NGATA FAMILY FOUNDATION – Charitable fundraising services by means of arranging, organizing and conducting projects, entertainment and social events; charitable services, namely, providing financial support to underprivileged and disadvantaged individuals, educational organizations and medical research organizations
  • JOE FLACCO – Entertainment in the nature of competitions in the field of athletics; Entertainment in the nature of football games; Entertainment in the nature of football games; Entertainment services, namely, participation in promoting charities; Entertainment services, namely, personal appearances by a football player; and more
  • Trademark image & LACE UP SON – [Steve Smith] Charitable fundraising services by means of running and walking events


  • CHUCKSTRONG – Charitable fundraising to support cancer research and procedures


  • Trademark image & CAM NEWTON – Men’s, women’s and children’s clothing associated with a professional sports athlete, namely, sports caps and hats, sports pants, sports shirts, baseball caps, caps, fleece pullovers, fleece tops, footwear, hats, headwear for winter and summer, hooded pullovers, hooded sweat shirts, knitted caps, athletic shoes, long sleeve pullovers, moisture-wicking sports shirts, pants, pullovers, shirts, shoes, socks, sweat shirts, sweat pants, T-shirts, tee shirts, tops
  • RIVERBOAT RON – Clothing, namely, T-shirts, sport shirts, polo shirts, knit shirts, golf shirts, dress shirts, sports caps and hats
  • RON RIVERA – Educational and entertainment services, namely, providing coaching in the sport of football, motivational speaking in the field of sports and leadership, and educational speaking in the field of sports and leadership


  • BEAST MODE – t-shirts
  • DANGERUSS WILSON – Entertainment services, namely, live, televised and movie appearances by a professional entertainer; Entertainment services, namely, participation in professional football; Entertainment services, namely, personal appearances by a professional athlete


  • Trademark image- charitable fund raising services

The “Elvis Presley” brand is one of the most valuable entertainment brands today, years after his death in 1977. In 2013, the rights to his intellectual property was sold for over $100 million. For the year ending in October 2013, Elvis was the second highest earning dead celebrity, according to Forbes, with $55 million in earnings.

The King has been the subject of more than 100 trademark registrations and applications. Here are some of the best (click marks for USPTO records):

Top Trademark TrendsSM of 2014

By Erik M. Pelton & Associates® – The Nontraditional Trademark Lawyers®

Once again, trademarks and pop culture collided frequently in 2014. For example, more than 50 “JOHNNY ____” applications were filed this year as quarterback Johnny Manziel was drafted by the Cleveland Browns including JOHNNY MAN’Z ALE, JOHNNY CLEVELAND, JOHNNY HOCKEY, JOHNNY PIGSKIN, and JOHNNY BENCHWARMER. Another football trademark story made big news as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) ruled in a case to cancel the Redskins trademark registrations.  Other big news stories, like the ebola outbreak, also were reflected the trademark filings. Another remarkable trademark story from 2014 was the Supreme Court, for the first time in several years, hearing a trademark case (B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc.). The case involves the differences in proceedings before the USPTO’s trademark appeal board and the Federal courts, and the Court will likely rule on it in the spring of 2015. Here is a summary of the year’s major trademark related developments:

Washington, DC Professional Football Team Trademark. In June, the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board granted a request filed by several Native Americans to cancel those trademarks that feature the term “Redskins.” However, the decision is now on appeal and the ongoing dispute, which has lasted for over a decade, continues. Following the decision, many other applicants filed trademark applications for potential team names, such as WASHINGTON AMERICANS, WASHINGTON NATIVES, WASHINGTON FEDSKINS, WASHINGTON WARRIORS.

Popular Terms: Selfie, Drone, Weed, Vape, and more. Once again, the most popular words and phenomena in pop culture made their way into many trademark filings. The 2014 word of the year, according to Oxford English Dictionary, is “Vape.”  And business owners certainly agree as more than 300 applications were filed at the USPTO featuring the word VAPE. Other popular trademark terms in 2014 included SELFIE (140+ applications), DRONE (100+ applications), and WEED (150+ applications). More than 100 filings in 2014 contain the “#” hashtag symbol. Online and environmental branding trends from the last few years contained in 2014 as SOCIAL remained popular (400+ applications), along with CLOUD (700+ applications), while more than 1,000 applications were filed featuring GREEN.

Logo Trends. As even more business and advertising moves online and via mobile devices, logos are trending to simpler smaller designs, which make them faster to load and easier to see on mobile screens. Terrific logo redesigns from popular online businesses include those from FOURSQUARE , PayPal, and AirBnB.

 PayPal Logo

Ebola. The spread of ebola was certainly a big story in 2014. At the USPTO, there were several applications filed for ebola related treatments and products including ZMAPP (Pharmaceutical preparations for treatment of Ebola virus infections), EBOLAHOL (antiviral disinfectant products for Ebola), EBOLAWAY (Antibacterial and antiviral sprays and wipes for eliminating bacteria and virii), and EBOLA OUTBREAK MAP.

Controversial Trademark Filings. The ALS Association rode a wave of viral social media activity last summer to raise more than $100 million dollars. Most of the activity was the result of the “ice bucket challenge.” The Association made quite a stir later in the summer when it applied to register four trademarks featuring the phrase, including ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE and #ICEBUCKETCHALLENGE. However, following a rapid backlash questioning the charitable intent and legality of claiming sole ownership and control of the phrase, the Association withdrew the applications.  Other questionable trademark filings included names related to tragedies, such as the MH17 and MH370 airplanes.  Last year’s trends noted the numerous BOSTON STRONG trademark application filings; as of today all but one of them has been abandoned.

Trademark scams continue. Despite one law firm’s successful quest to shutdown an operation preying on trademark holders, such scams from numerous companies offering negligible or questionable services remain prolific. Join a petition to “Request USPTO Investigation and Action Regarding Trademark Scams” here.

What to look for in 2015. Expect even more trademark disputes to go viral via social media, building upon the success of EAT MORE KALE fending off a claim from Chik-fil-A and Eat Mor Chikin. Also expect the number of nontraditional trademark filings to continue to grow as more brands protect colors, sounds, shapes, and other indicators of source featuring more than words or logos.


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© 2014 Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC. All Rights Reserved.

About Erik M. Pelton: Erik Pelton® has been making trademarks bloom since 1999® as the founder of Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC®, a boutique trademark law firm in Falls Church, Virginia. The firm has registered more than 2,000 U.S. trademarks for clients and has represented dozens of parties in trademark disputes. In 2014, Erik presented on trademark and branding issues to a variety of audiences, including the American Bar Association and a junior high school class.

Prior issues of Top Trademark TrendsSM

Sports announcer trademarks

Posted by ipelton on: December 11th, 2014

Recently, longtime college basketball announcer Bill Rafferty made some headlines with his applications to register some of his well known phrases. Rafferty filed to register ONIONS and WITH A KISS. The challenge with such trademarks is determining if and how they are used in commerce. Using them in the course of a broadcast while describing the play may not be a true trademark use. A trademark is fundamentally anything that identifies the source of the goods or services. Of course, it is always possible to make apparel featuring the phrase and to aply for registration of the phrase in connection with  clothing — but that is not a real true trademark use either; it is probably ornamental and weaker.

But announcer trademarks are not new, and several of them have been registered in the past. LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE is the best known, and has no doubt generated a lot of revenue for its owner, Michael Buffer. Here are a few other registered announcer trademarks, many of which are also from boxing announcers:




This Saturday, California Chrome will race a mile and a half in the Belmont Stakes, seeking to be the first Triple Crown winner in decades, since Affirmed in 1978.

Here are is a trademark guide to the Belmont Stakes® [click names and logos for USPTO registration records]:

  • CALIFORNIA CHROME – registered for hubcaps and rims, not for horse racing! See my blog post for details.
  • AFFIRMED – registered for “mugs”
  • AFFIRMED – registered for shirts and hats
  • SECRETARIAT - a very famous triple crown winner, registered for ‘entertainment services, in the nature of thoroughbred racing