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Sports IP news: from Tom Terrific to Taco Tuesdays

News and Notes Focused on the 3 Public Faces of IP Law

  • Brand Image Protection - Trademark Law
  • Visual Image Protection - Copyright Law
  • Personal Image Protection - Right of Publicity Law

The Image Protection Law blog has been created in order to share stories and information on the legal aspects of: 1) the marketplace reputation of a company or product captured in its trademark, 2) published or publicly-displayed artwork, photography, and any created visual design, and 3) use of a person's photograph or likeness for product promotion or other commercial purposes.

The "IP3" share at least one thing in common: Image is everything. In these posts let's look at what that means in the realm of intellectual property in the news, but let's also be prepared to explore if there's something more beyond "everything." Don't forget, the intellectual in "intellectual property" doesn't mean smart or brainy, although by nature true creators often are. The word is used to refer to any creation, i.e., a "product of the mind." While this blog will be regularly updated, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these posts.

San Francisco sports fans love the Giants, 49ers, Sharks and Warriors, but we also appreciate stars on other teams. One of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history is a local guy, in fact. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady was born just a few miles south of San Francisco in San Mateo.

Brady recently stunned New York Mets fans when his company filed trademark applications for "Tom Terrific" for clothing, posters, photographs and trading cards. Of course, Mets great Tom Seaver has long been known by the nickname Tom Terrific. According to a news report, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has initially rejected Brady's application on the basis of false connection and the phrase/nickname applies to a living person.

Brady and his intellectual property attorney now have six months from the date of the rejection to respond.

In other sports-related IP news, Giannis Antetokounmpo - also known by his nickname the Greek Freak (he has a registered trademark for the moniker) - filed a trademark infringement and trademark dilution lawsuit against someone who had named a line of clothing "Greek Freak." However, a report states that the two parties have settled their dispute and the case was dismissed.

A California hoops star who plays far south of the Bay Area is also making intellectual property news. LeBron James' IP holding company has filed an application to register the phrase "Taco Tuesday" for ad- and entertainment-related services.

Sports fans everywhere are said to be wondering if the Chosen One can even do that. The answer: yes, he can, as long as he can show that that a trademark would be a distinctive identifier for particular goods or services. In short, it would be difficult to register the phrase for restaurant services featuring discounted tacos on Tuesdays, but it seems feasible to obtain a registration for entertainment services where the phrase is not descriptive and may be distinctive.

According to the news report, James' "application joins a surprisingly long list of pending applications and current registrations for the Taco Tuesday phrase."

Those who want to protect their intellectual property should contact a San Francisco attorney experienced in matters of trademark registration and litigation.

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