Don't call it the S-p-rb-wl...

I find it bizarre that the [del]Big Game[/del] [del]Stupidbowl[/del] [del]Ad Bowl[/del] 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.)

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.

They don’t. They may choose to for aesthetic reasons but the NFL has no claim on the use of the term in reporting.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Stephen Colbert is doing this all week.

Technically, it’s the “Super Bowl,” not the “Superbowl”.

Just sayin’.

Great Minds do, indeed, Run In The Same Channel.
I had no idea.

Uhhhh… that wasn’t Jerry Rice and that wasn’t the Superb Owl.

How dare you, sir!

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. :slight_smile:

Hey, I did this joke last year!

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

You’re all late to the Superb Owl party. :wink:

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.

<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.”

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.

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.

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!”

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.