Headline Intellectual Property Sports Law Trademarks

The NFL Cares About Who Wins The Souper Bowl

Trademark bullying watch!  My first post on trademark bullying discussed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) interest in eliciting suggestions to address these problematic litigation tactics.  Legit claims are one thing; trademark bullying ties up the courts, costs people money that would be better spent on innovation, and takes up unnecessary time litigating.

My two other posts on this site discussed possible cases of bullying: 1) The L.A. Dodgers going to battle against Brooklyn Burger, and 2) Facebook attacking Lamebook.  Enter a third to the mix.  The National Football League (NFL) wants to prevent a restaurant from trademarking its logo.

NFL Properties LLC is opposing the registration of Souper Bowls, LLC’s mark.  They have already been granted 2 extensions of time, with a new deadline of February 9, 2011.

This seems like more of a potential trademark dilution problem than trademark infringement.  With dilution, consumer confusion plays absolutely no role.  I doubt that anyone would think that the NFL is associated with this soups, salads, and sandwich wraps place anyway.  Instead, the NFL will need to establish that there has been/will be some blurring or tarnishment based on the existence of the mark.

The “Super Bowl” is certainly a famous, distinctive mark.  But will the Souper Bowl’s use of the mark shown above lead to any dilution through blurring or tarnishment of the “Super Bowl” mark?  The Souper Bowl is a commercial entity and may gain additional business based on its clever or non-clever (depending on your viewpoint) name.  Is the NFL just throwing around its weight on this one, or do they have a solid claim?