I must admit it had not even occurred to me that the March
Madness season was upon us. As such, you will not find bracket
busting tips, upset picks, or predictions in this post. But
don't click away just yet. If you read on, you will learn
something much more valuable (and much more accurate): how to avoid
being sued for trademark infringement by the NCAA this maddening
The NCAA has registered numerous marks that relate to the
upcoming basketball tournament, including the following:
NCAA Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight (and Women's Elite Eight)
Final Four (and Women's Final Four)
The Big Dance
In recent years, the NCAA has ramped up its trademark
enforcement efforts, sending hundreds of cease-and-desist letters
to those who use its trademarks in even the most innocuous ways.
According to the NCAA, it does not matter that an accused
infringer's business has absolutely nothing to do with
athletics. Indeed, the NCAA has demanded that travel booking
websites take down offerings that advertise Final Four trips. The
NCAA was also successful in a trademark dispute with an adult
website that displayed a bracket featuring porn stars alongside
naughty plays-on-words utilizing the NCAA's trademarks. The
NCAA even convinced NASA to cease the use of its bracket-style
tournament entitled "Mission Madness," which allowed
space exploration fans to vote on matchups of various NASA missions
and included basketball icons within the bracket.
It is unlikely that anyone would think the NCAA is affiliated
with or sponsors a bracket-style tournament of porn stars. Stated
another way, there is no likelihood of confusion between the two
entities simply by virtue of an adult website's punny use of
the NCAA's trademarks. Rather, the NCAA's enforcement
efforts are targeted at preventing dilution of its marks. And it is
vigilant in its anti-dilution campaign.
In sum, unless you want to get beat worse than Hampton playing
Kentucky, think twice before you start promoting your March Madness
charity event, your Sweet Sixteen drink specials, or your Big Dance
adult entertainer bracket, because the NCAA will not hesitate to
lay the smack down.
The lawyers at Trademarkology provide trademark registration
services backed by the experience and service of one of the
nation's oldest law firms. Click
hereto begin the process of protecting your brand
name with a federally registered trademark.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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