By: Mark R. Malek
I’m just sitting here watching the NCAA tournament and I know that somehow, someway, I can relate this to intellectual property. Of course, I remember that “March Madness” is a registered trademark. I did not realize, however, that it is registered to the March Madness Athletic Association. I have to assume that the NCAA Cartel somehow has their hands in the March Madness Athletic Association.
As you can imagine, similar to the NFL’s aggressive protection of it’s most famous trademark – the “Super Bowl,” the March Madness Athletic Association has lawyers that rigorously defend its trademarks. I read a pretty good article about March Madness and how you just can’t use the term to promote your own goods and services.
Inevitably though, you will see a commercial or some advertisement where, for example, a car dealership is promoting their big sale as the “March Madness Sale.” You have to assume that this type of behavior gets shut down pretty quickly. The alternative, of course, is to think of something to promote your goods or services in a way that ties it to the event in question, but that still respects the trademark rights of others. That is why you always see commercials around late January and early February that say something along the lines of “are you ready for the Big Game?” Everyone knows what “Big Game” they are talking about, right? I don’t dare say it because of fear that the NFL will work me over real good.
The point here is that just because the name of the sporting event is cool, do not think that you can automatically use that name to promote your own goods or services. The other point is that you will certainly have time to write articles like this if your team has been crappy for 5 straight years and you have stopped paying attention to the tournament….thanks a lot NC State!