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Old 01-29-2014, 09:39 AM
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Don't call it the S-p-rb-wl...


I find it bizarre that the Big Game Stupidbowl Ad Bowl Superbowl can't be called by its right name without licensing permission.

I mean, I guess I can understand why stores might be barred from having a "Superbowl Sale" since that would be trading on the precious protected term and benefiting someone other than the NFL.

But when newspapers and news reports have to use - or feel they have to use - The Big Game in things like countdowns, feature articles and even straight up news reports, there's something very whack here. Certainly the NFL is allowed to protect its trademark as jealously as, say, Disney or Apple, but outside of egregious commercial use I can't see how my local paper having a "Superbowl Countdown" on its web page being any damaging act to the NFL or its fat wallet.

I mean, I could write a novel in which the protagonist mentions his Mickey Mouse® t-shirt in every chapter and has a three-Big Mac™ rumination every two pages, and neither Disney nor MacD's is likely to care (as long as I get the capitalization, spelling and trade marks exactly right).

Why does the NFL get to guard this "Kleenex" word so rigorously that you have to get a validated license to even say it, and what possible benefit is there from so intently policing its use in noncommercial settings?

I should note that the last fifteen minutes of S-p-rb-wl I saw was Jerry Rice making The Catch, which was thrilling, but absolutely nothing could make me turn on a TV or go where one is on that day. I don't much care for football, other than a vague regionally patriotic interest in the status of the Niners, and the entire spectacle of the SUPERBOWL SUPERBOWL SUPERBOWL THERE I FUCKING SAID IT COME AND GET ME YOU TRADEMARK-COPPERS! is just about the most sickening example of mass hysteria/psychosis I can imagine.

But being forbidden to say The Word without permission... is positively Soviet if not Orwellian.

(I should note that this is my third attempt at posting this; the two before vanished unrecoverably when I tried to enter the little trade mark symbols. Hmm.)
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:40 AM
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I think most of it is companies and stations being extremely cautious and not the NFL telling them they can't say it. They'd rather just say a few extra words and avoid any trouble.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:41 AM
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But when newspapers and news reports have to use - or feel they have to use - The Big Game in things like countdowns, feature articles and even straight up news reports, there's something very whack here.
They don't. They may choose to for aesthetic reasons but the NFL has no claim on the use of the term in reporting.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:43 AM
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I think most of it is companies and stations being extremely cautious and not the NFL telling them they can't say it. They'd rather just say a few extra words and avoid any trouble.
I'll buy that as an observed point but not as any kind of answer. The NFL has been very aggressive about what it sees as misuse; a 200-year-old newspaper should be able to put a "Superbowl Countdown" on its page without fear of legal retribution.

So yes, the NFL has even the media running scared on this, even if it's caution and not actual supported law. Why do they care and why do even news agencies bend to this bizarre demand? I mean, no one would think twice about a news report that said the robber ordered a Whopper before robbing the place; BK is not going to sue them into insolvency for not calling it The Big Sandwich.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:47 AM
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I think that stores should announce that they're having a Superb Owl sale.


It'd be a natural for Hooters to have a Superb Owl party.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:49 AM
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It is The Sporting Event That Dare Not Speak Its Name. Shame that this does not have the effect of suppressing all mention of it.

Anyway, anecdotally, I don't remember it being this way when I was growing up (in the 1980s/early 90s). Places would blithely advertise Superbowl sales, etc. Seems like everyone started shifting to "the Big Game" (which sounds stupid and makes me twitch) in the late 90s at the earliest.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:52 AM
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I'll buy that as an observed point but not as any kind of answer. The NFL has been very aggressive about what it sees as misuse; a 200-year-old newspaper should be able to put a "Superbowl Countdown" on its page without fear of legal retribution.

So yes, the NFL has even the media running scared on this, even if it's caution and not actual supported law. Why do they care and why do even news agencies bend to this bizarre demand? I mean, no one would think twice about a news report that said the robber ordered a Whopper before robbing the place; BK is not going to sue them into insolvency for not calling it The Big Sandwich.
The NFL cares for the same reason every company cares about this kind of thing: they want to make all the money they can from their property and they don't want it to lose any of its value the way Kleenex or Band-Aid have. The NFL can be very aggressive because it has a tons and tons of money, and companies avoid the phrase because they don't want to have to defend themselves even from a weak lawsuit and because a lot of people have a shaky grasp of his this stuff actually works. A lot of them go way over the top about it, especially in soft news. I don't know if a newspaper would really get in trouble for a Superbowl Countdown. I agree that the Superbowl Sale thing makes sense.
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I think that stores should announce that they're having a Superb Owl sale.


It'd be a natural for Hooters to have a Superb Owl party.
Stephen Colbert is doing this all week.

Last edited by Marley23; 01-29-2014 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:57 AM
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Technically, it's the "Super Bowl," not the "Superbowl".

Just sayin'.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:58 AM
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Stephen Colbert is doing this all week.
Great Minds do, indeed, Run In The Same Channel.


I had no idea.
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Old 01-29-2014, 10:00 AM
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I should note that the last fifteen minutes of S-p-rb-wl I saw was Jerry Rice making The Catch, which was thrilling, but absolutely nothing could make me turn on a TV or go where one is on that day.
Uhhhh.... that wasn't Jerry Rice and that wasn't the Superb Owl.

How dare you, sir!
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Old 01-29-2014, 10:39 AM
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Uhhhh.... that wasn't Jerry Rice and that wasn't the Superb Owl.
Jerry Rice, Dwight Clark, Champ game, Spowl, allee samee thing.

I really don't allocate any brain space to football, as you can tell. Good thing I didn't call Clark "Jerry" when I got the chance to meet him a few years later, though.
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:29 AM
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I think that stores should announce that they're having a Superb Owl sale.


It'd be a natural for Hooters to have a Superb Owl party.
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Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
Stephen Colbert is doing this all week.
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Great Minds do, indeed, Run In The Same Channel.


I had no idea.

Hey, I did this joke last year!

http://stripgenerator.com/strip/717381/the-big-scam/

This is even worse than the time The Onion stole my "Dick Cheney in a Dunk Tank" idea!

http://stripgenerator.com/strip/1942...stole-my-idea/
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:33 AM
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You're all late to the Superb Owl party.
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:11 PM
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Here in Las Vegas, they used to advertise for huge events on Super Bowl day - some casinos would put a jumbo tron (if that is the word for those huge screens) in an arena, plus tons of other large screen TVs throughout and charge maybe $5-10 for unlimited drinks and food - obviously the money was made from gambling on the game.

However, the NFL came crashing down and threatened legal action, stopping this immediately.

The reason? Supposedly this would put ticket sales for the actual game in jeopardy!!! People wouldn't buy tickets to the game if they could come to Vegas and see it for cheap.
Right - as if it is hard to sell tickets to this overpriced, over-hyped game. Tickets are going for $10,000 and I think private boxed seat areas are going for upwards of $250,000. Greedy bastards.

So, now the casinos still offer similar deals, but they pretty much can't advertise the fact.

I could not possibly care less for any football game and used to tune in every once in awhile if I was home simply to see the commercials - however, even that isn't necessary anymore as they show the "best of" before and after the game.
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:25 PM
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Here in Las Vegas, they used to advertise for huge events on Super Bowl day - some casinos would put a jumbo tron (if that is the word for those huge screens)...
<evil glare> That's Jumbotron®, and Sony's lawyers are targeting your location now. Please remain still with your hands in sight and your wallet and any RE deeds on the table in front of you.
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:56 PM
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<evil glare> That's Jumbotron®, and Sony's lawyers are targeting your location now. Please remain still with your hands in sight and your wallet and any RE deeds on the table in front of you.
JumboTron is trademarked by Sony. The word jumbotron has become a generic term for large video screens. It's pretty much like Kleenex and Band-Aid now.

I've never noticed news or sports reports not using the term Super Bowl. The only time I hear "the big game" etc. is in advertisement for things that aren't official sponsors/advertisers. The local sports talk shows always call it the Super Bowl.
It's the same here in Alabama with the Iron Bowl (Alabama vs. Auburn.) If a company isn't an official sponsor they say stuff like, "Register for a chance to win tickets to the big game in T-Town (Tuscaloosa) or on the plains (Auburn)" or "Stock up for the big game on November 30."
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:58 PM
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Because the NFL is full of itself.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:08 PM
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Because the NFL is full of itself.
Well, duh. I am just puzzled as to why they've gotten so full of grasping greed and idiocy as to expend effort keeping people from using the word.

I mean, I am the last person who needs corporate greed explained to me, but since they already rake in billions from viewers, networks and advertisers desperately throwing bushels of money at them, tromping on small supermarket chains for having a Superbowl Sale seems... complete madness. Being so intimidating that even journalism sites steer around the word is even more so.

Not even Disney, Apple and McD's, the poster babies for trademark protection, are so ridiculous on a sweeping basis.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:21 PM
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I am just puzzled as to why they've gotten so full of grasping greed and idiocy as to expend effort keeping people from using the word.
The answer is that they haven't. They don't care if people say Super Bowl. They do care if other businesses try to make money off the words Super Bowl and either compete with the NFL or make money off the trademark without the NFL's permission. They might be overzealous about it but that's not totally unreasonable. It's their intellectual property and they want to make sure nobody trashes their name.
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Being so intimidating that even journalism sites steer around the word is even more so.
The words "Super Bowl" are all over the websites of ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, and on and on. If you see journalists avoiding the phrase, they are either being jokey or stupidly misunderstanding the issue. That's not so unusual- most journalists aren't lawyers and plenty of other people don't get the fine points of this stuff either. That's not to say I know all that much about it myself, but I've seen this kind of thing discussed before. Every time you hear about a famous person trademarking a catchphrase, someone inevitably says "Huh? Does this mean they want everyone who says those words to pay them? They're crazy!"
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:28 PM
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I notice similar things with the Olympics. Seems that some papers don't use the word Olympic in their coverage, so in a few weeks we'll see stories about the Sochi games. And heaven help the poor bastard that wants to use the word Olympic in his business.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:28 PM
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Being so intimidating that even journalism sites steer around the word is even more so.
As others have pointed out - this is incorrect. Most news outlets refer to the SuperBowl in stories. The place where you might see an issue is when these journalism sites have commercial tie-ins that are a concern to the NFL. But the intimidation that you perceive just doesn't seem to be there.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:29 PM
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The answer is that they haven't. They don't care if people say Super Bowl. They do care if other businesses try to make money off the words Super Bowl and either compete with the NFL or make money off the trademark without the NFL's permission. They might be overzealous about it but that's not totally unreasonable. It's their intellectual property and they want to make sure nobody trashes their name.
Can't argue, at least in conventional marketing/biz terms. Just color me Softly Bemused (it's right next to Shocked Silly in the box) at level of greedthink involved.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:33 PM
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I notice similar things with the Olympics. Seems that some papers don't use the word Olympic in their coverage, so in a few weeks we'll see stories about the Sochi games. And heaven help the poor bastard that wants to use the word Olympic in his business.
What newspapers don't use the word Olympics?

Last edited by Accidental Martyr; 01-29-2014 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:38 PM
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What newspapers don't use the word Olympics?
Similar case. If it isn't 100% news reporting - that is, if it's in the slightest way promotional, even of their own coverage from authorized sources - they will use a circumlocution to keep the IOC from sending NFL goons to beat them.

I don't argue trademark protection. But when an entity is so overbearing and threatening that even legitimate users of the term back away, something's wrong. It's as if reviewers had to refer to a movie as coming from "Walt's company."

And frankly, I'd be afraid to piss off Heisenberg, too.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 01-29-2014 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:42 PM
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Just color me Softly Bemused (it's right next to Shocked Silly in the box) at level of greedthink involved.
They get that money by selling exclusive rights to advertise as SuperBowl sponsors. If anyone could do so they wouldn't make any money on sponsorship. You can't just protect some of the naming rights.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:45 PM
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What newspapers don't use the word Olympics?
I've seen it. Like either the Detroit News or Detroit Free Press ponies up to the USOC, they use the word and the other one doesn't.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:51 PM
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They get that money by selling exclusive rights to advertise as SuperBowl sponsors. If anyone could do so they wouldn't make any money on sponsorship. You can't just protect some of the naming rights.
Yes, I know all this. If there's anything making me question the practice, it's that they apparently had no problem with general use of "Super Bowl" in associated ways until perhaps 8-10 years ago, then suddenly it was money leaking out of their pockets and they turned feral.

A grocery store or TV seller having a "Super Bowl" sale takes not one dime from the NFL's pocket, helps promote the hypiness of the whole thing and is in no way equivalent to using the term in a competing way. They were good with it for 25+ years; besides being a bit of a case of burning down the horses it's indicative of nothing but end-stage greed, gibbering in a boardroom because someone might somehow be making collateral money from their efforts.

It isn't even the nominally global-community, contribution-supported IOC/Olympics... it's just a fuckin' entertainment corporation after every dime they can squeeze into their pockets, and going to insane levels to make sure no dime escapes - even imaginary dimes.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 01-29-2014 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:52 PM
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JumboTron is trademarked by Sony. The word jumbotron has become a generic term for large video screens.
Let's just call it a Jumbot Ron and be on the safe side, eh?
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:52 PM
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I've seen it. Like either the Detroit News or Detroit Free Press ponies up to the USOC, they use the word and the other one doesn't.
Are you saying that a legitimate news outlet pays for the right to use the word Olympics when reporting on the games?
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:15 PM
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Let's just call it a Jumbot Ron and be on the safe side, eh?
I think Jum Botron better captures the majesty of the experience though. That's what I'm watching my Superb Owl on!

We'll be doing our typical Superb Owl viewing. Recording it, tuning in about an hour in to be able to fast forward thru the game to the commercials.
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:55 PM
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Are you saying that a legitimate news outlet pays for the right to use the word Olympics when reporting on the games?
Not 100% sure but it sure looked that way to me last time it came around. I'll be checking the papers again this time and if I find the same story I'll share it.
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Old 01-29-2014, 03:11 PM
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This page about the Olympic trademarks is very useful.
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By statute, the USOC may file a civil action against any person if that person, without consent of the USOC, uses the Olympic trademarks for the purpose of trade, to induce the sale of any goods or services, or to promote any theatrical exhibition, athletic performance, or competition. A showing of actual consumer confusion, or even a likelihood of such confusion, is not necessary for the USOC to prevail. The statute makes actionable any use of the word Olympic or similar terms tending to cause confusion or mistake, to deceive, or to falsely suggest a connection with the Corporation or any Olympic, Paralympic, or Pan American Games activity. [...] Historically, the USOC has actively policed its rights to maintain the strength of the Olympic trademarks and thus protect Olympic corporate sponsors against dilution of the value of the Olympic trademarks.
It also specifies that there are some ways you can and can't use the word Olympic "to identify a business or goods or services." None of this applies to journalism. You can't make people pay you to report on something.
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Old 01-29-2014, 03:49 PM
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It also specifies that there are some ways you can and can't use the word Olympic "to identify a business or goods or services." None of this applies to journalism. You can't make people pay you to report on something.
Yes, just like the use of Super Bowl by news organizations.
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Old 01-29-2014, 03:53 PM
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A grocery store or TV seller having a "Super Bowl" sale takes not one dime from the NFL's pocket, helps promote the hypiness of the whole thing and is in no way equivalent to using the term in a competing way.
Sure it can - there are softdrink, snack food, and TV sponsors for the Superbowl. You don't want people selling competitors brand items under the Superbowl name or you won't be able to charge as much for the rights. Why pay big money for the rights to be the "official snack food of the Superbowl" if you can just make a deal with the local Stop and Shop?

The money in Superbowl advertising has gone up dramatically in the past decade; that's why they are pushing it.
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Old 01-29-2014, 04:18 PM
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I think that stores should announce that they're having a Superb Owl sale.


It'd be a natural for Hooters to have a Superb Owl party.
Or perhaps a Superbowel party.
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Old 01-29-2014, 04:18 PM
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I notice similar things with the Olympics. Seems that some papers don't use the word Olympic in their coverage, so in a few weeks we'll see stories about the Sochi games. And heaven help the poor bastard that wants to use the word Olympic in his business.
What if a person who owned a paint store had a sale on Olympic stain?
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Old 01-29-2014, 04:57 PM
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Or perhaps a Superbowel party.

With LOTS of chili.
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:16 PM
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Thank you for reminding me that was coming up! It's early enough that I can plan my weekend to avoid the rowdy crowds.
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:30 PM
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Or a used-vinyl shop offering The Official Record Album Of The Olympics
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:36 PM
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With LOTS of chili.
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Or perhaps a Superbowel party.
We'll watch it on the Jimbotron.
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:57 PM
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Yes, just like the use of Super Bowl by news organizations.
Right. Which is why any news organization that eschews the words is either kidding around or being very stupid.
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Sure it can - there are softdrink, snack food, and TV sponsors for the Superbowl. You don't want people selling competitors brand items under the Superbowl name or you won't be able to charge as much for the rights. Why pay big money for the rights to be the "official snack food of the Superbowl" if you can just make a deal with the local Stop and Shop?

The money in Superbowl advertising has gone up dramatically in the past decade; that's why they are pushing it.
This is a huge part of the answer. The NFL has an Official everything and it needs those sponsorships to mean something. If being the Official Left-Handed Supermarket of Super Bowl XLVIII doesn't mean anything because any company can promote itself using the name of the game, companies won't pay the NFL for those sponsorships.
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:57 PM
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They get that money by selling exclusive rights to advertise as SuperBowl sponsors. If anyone could do so they wouldn't make any money on sponsorship. You can't just protect some of the naming rights.
This is it in a nutshell.
You can't sell the rights to, say, Pepsi to have a Super Bowl promotion if Coke can just go ahead and do one as well without consequence.
And as it was explained to me, if you're willy nilly about enforcing the naming rights that courts could take a dim view on you going after selective targets, so you almost have to go after everyone.

Last edited by zoid; 01-29-2014 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 01-30-2014, 12:33 AM
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I'd like to challenge Amateur Barbarian to cite a news organization that is avoiding use of Super Bowl or Olympics.

Newspaper advertisers . . . well, that's different. While there is such a thing as "trademark fair use," it would apply to someone saying "nine out of ten dentists find the Puppy Bowl more entertaining than the Super Bowl," not to someone hitching their mattress sale to the Super Bowl star.

Incidentally, protection for Olympics and the interlocking rings symbol comes from a separate statute, 36 U.S.C. 380, and not from trademark law. Thus the decision barring Gay Olympics. But not even that can overcome the First Amendment to affect newspaper stories.
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Old 01-30-2014, 01:42 AM
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Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, California was built in 1932, when Los Angeles hosted the Olympics. The school's campus was used for some of the staging of the Olympics, and in recognition, the school's sports teams are authorized to use the name "Olympians". They also use the five Olympic rings and the "Citius, Altius, Fortius" motto.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by randompattern View Post
What if a person who owned a paint store had a sale on Olympic stain?
The paint company is grandfathered in, before the USOC went heavy on their trademark protection. If you wanted to open say an Olympic Hamburger stand, you would get an invitation to sleep with the fishes.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by BobLibDem View Post
The paint company is grandfathered in, before the USOC went heavy on their trademark protection. If you wanted to open say an Olympic Hamburger stand, you would get an invitation to sleep with the fishes.
Did you find a cite for news organizations having to pay to use the word Olympics in their news coverage?
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:04 AM
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The IOC has these rules. Maybe a lot of papers say screw it, we won't play their game.
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by BobLibDem View Post
The IOC has these rules. Maybe a lot of papers say screw it, we won't play their game.
From your link:
Quote:
Media organisations can reproduce the Olympic Properties in an editorial context for legitimate reporting and informational purposes, thereby providing factual reference and coverage of the Olympic Games. The Olympic Properties can be used to identify or promote news stories related to the Olympic Games.
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
I'll buy that as an observed point but not as any kind of answer. The NFL has been very aggressive about what it sees as misuse; a 200-year-old newspaper should be able to put a "Superbowl Countdown" on its page without fear of legal retribution.

So yes, the NFL has even the media running scared on this, even if it's caution and not actual supported law. Why do they care and why do even news agencies bend to this bizarre demand? I mean, no one would think twice about a news report that said the robber ordered a Whopper before robbing the place; BK is not going to sue them into insolvency for not calling it The Big Sandwich.
The media is not "running scared." Not a single 200-year-old newspaper is avoiding use of the term "Superbowl" (or "Olympics," for that matter) because they are afraid of legal action from the N.F.L. Using a trademark in connection with news reporting is not infringement. It's called nominative fair use of a trademark. Every 200-year-old newspaper has known that for 200 years. The N.F.L. knows it. It's simply not happening.

If any particular newspaper chooses to use some other term, like "the Big Game," in its news coverage, then they're doing it for some other reason. Period.

(I emphasize news there, because it's conceivable that a newspaper can be working with an advertiser to promote the advertiser's goods or services, in which case, the nominative fair use defense might not apply.)
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
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So, now the casinos still offer similar deals, but they pretty much can't advertise the fact.
Of course they can. They just can't use the name. The thing is, they don't have to. Again this year I will be at the New York New York party. They are calling it their Super Party. It will be in their cirque du soleil theater. You pretty much need to have a casino host to get in. They have to actively keep people out of the party. They try not to get it too crowded because it annoys the whales.
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