Intellectual Property

Are You Ready For Some…JON GRUDEN FOOTBALL™?

This past week, news regarding an interesting trademark that was filed for nearly a year ago began making the rounds; it was reported that JON GRUDEN FOOTBALL received federal trademark protection after being officially registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Specifically, the trademark – which was officially registered on October 13, 2015 – received registration for the following goods and services: “Entertainment services, namely, providing online video games.”

Most notably, JON GRUDEN FOOTBALL was filed and registered as a 1(a) trademark application. A Section 1(a) filing basis for a trademark application only applies when the applicant is currently using the applied-for mark in interstate commerce in connection with the goods and/or services stated in its application; to prove actual use in commerce, the specific date of the trademark’s first use in commerce and a specimen (i.e. a sample showing the trademark being used in commerce) showing how the mark is actually being used with the goods and/or services must be provided. Contrarily, a Section 1(b) filing basis applies when the applicant has yet to use the trademark in interstate commerce in conjunction with its contemplated goods and/or services. Stated differently, an applicant filing for a trademark under Section 1(b) expressly admits that he or she has yet to provide or sell goods or services bearing the trademark, but has plans of doing so in the near future. In sum, 1(a) applications are used for trademarks already in interstate commerce wishing to receive federal protection, while 1(b) applications serve as effectively reserving rights in the applicant’s trademark for a limited period of time.

The application for JON GRUDEN FOOTBALL states that its date of first use was October 28, 2014. While I’ve yet to see or stumble upon any games being offered online bearing the trademark, JON GRUDEN FOOTBALL is currently available for download as a mobile application on Google Play and the Apple Store. The description for the app describes it as “An asynchronous football strategy game featuring sophisticated turn-by-turn game simulation and plays straight out of Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden’s playbook, Jon Gruden Football makes you the coach!”

Based on the registration, you would think the registrant for JON GRUDEN FOOTBALL, Gruden Group, LLC, has plans of expanding into the financially successful world of next generation video games offered for systems such as XBOX ONE or PlayStation 4. Upon its release Electronic Arts’ (EA Sports) MADDEN 16 was the best selling video game in August and was the second best selling video game in September. However, those expecting JON GRUDEN FOOTBALL to compete commercially with the likes of MADDEN shouldn’t hold their collective breath in anticipation. It’s much more likely that Gruden Group, LLC elected to file for trademark registration so that it may license out Jon Gruden’s name as a means of monetizing Jon Gruden’s name, image, and likeness. As of October 13, 2015, no person or business may use the phrase JON GRUDEN FOOTBALL in connection with video games or any other substantially similar goods or services without the express permission of Gruden Group, LLC. Who knows – with the official registration of the trademark, maybe 2K Sports will attempt an official comeback with JON GRUDEN FOOTBALL 2K17.