Posts Tagged ‘sports’

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:




Minor league baseballs teams are a hotbed for creative branding and logos (El Paso Chihuahuas, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Richmond Flying Squirrels, etc.). The San Antonio Missions are no exception. This doulbe-A affiliate of the Padres unveiled new uniforms and logos last month.

According to a story on, the new “M” logo features a mission bell ringing; and the primary logo features a baseball shooting across the bottom, which represents cannon fire from the Alamo.

The artwork for the logos is nice — mostly with a modern update of a classic feel. Nothing too outrageous or bold or different. And the “SA” logos feature a coonskin cap, ala Davey Crocket, and a hot pepper! And apparently the team sports a mascot named “Henry the Puffy Taco!” And his sidekick is “Ballapeño” the baseball-playing jalapeno!

All in all, a fun creative brand with suggestive logos and brand name. Well done, Missions!

One significant critique of the new branding, however: no USPTO trademark filings to help protect the new logos or the mascots. Although the MISSIONS name is registered.

Image via

I certainly do not understand the full impact of the judge’s decision late Friday in the case by Ed O’Bannon against the NCAA. If players now have more control over the names (and images and likenesses) and a right to profit from them, it seems to me that they might be able to file trademarks to protect those names.  Why is that important?  Because when they don’t file trademark applications others often do in their place. And that makes it more complicated and more expensive for the player’s to protect their brands and to resolve the disputes that are created by the third-party trademark filings.

For example, at least one trademark application sought to protect JOHNNY FOOTBALL in reference to Johnny Manziel while he was still playing in college. The first application for JOHNNY FOOTBALL at the USPTO, filed by Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments, LP in October of 2012.  In October 2013, someone filed a USPTO application for “Famous Jameis,” a reference to the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston.

The recent court ruling (certainly it will be appealed) could open the door for college athletes that are stars and brands to file for trademark registration with the USPTO to provide proper protection for those brands.


“Johnny Manziel in Kyle Field” by Shutterbug459 – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

As long time readers know, I love non-traditional trademarks.  Goats on a roof, ducks marching, lighting, facial make-up configurations, sounds, shapes, and more. Add to the list of my favorite non-traditional trademarks:

a crowd cheering the following words “Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie! Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie! Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie! Razorbacks!”

The marks has been registered by the University of Arkansas. To my knowledge, it is the first “crowd cheer” registered. It does beg the question of how does the university assert ownership of the trademark? Does the University control use of the trademark? Do they enforce unauthorized users? And did the University originate the cheer, or did some fan?

USPTO record for Registration No. 4558864

The original evidence of use submitted by the university is a video of fans performing the cheer

Will other schools jump on the cheer trademark bandwagon?

Related post:Interesting college football trademarks: mascots, uniforms, end zones, turf color, and a cheer

New ACC logo: Love it Leave it?

Posted by ipelton on: July 15th, 2014

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) recently unveiled a new logo.

New logo:

New ACC logo

Old logo:

ACC Logo 2013

The new logo is boring. Unimpressive. Not memorable. The opposite of bold. It tells us nothing about what the ACC is or what it does.

Granted, the old logo was nothing special either.  But if you are going to spend the time and energy and money to update the logo, why not make the most of it?

The ACC’s new logo will be plastered on millions of webpages, uniforms, and TV screens in just one season of football or basketball. And it will tell the viewed absolutely nothing about the ACC — except that it is boring.


Related Post: Best and worst college football conference logos