One of the questions we commonly get from broadcasters and others around this time of year is whether and/or how they can use the term SUPER BOWL. Some refer to it as a trademark while others call it a copyright. Who is right…and how can it be used? The term SUPER BOWL is a registered trademark owned by the National Football League. We previously discussed this issue in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Actually, the NFL owns at least eight trademark registrations containing the words SUPER BOWL, as well trademark registrations for the terms PRO BOWL and even SUPER SUNDAY. Aside from these trademark registrations, the NFL also owns the copyright to the telecast of the game itself. You may have heard that in past years, the NFL tried to stop Super Bowl parties shown on large TV screens. This was an enforcement of the NFL’s copyright in the game. Now, the NFL apparently no longer tries to stop Super Bowl parties unless the proprietor charges admission to see the game. Again, this is a copyright issue. But what do these rights mean for a broadcaster who wants to run a Super Bowl promotion or an advertiser who wants to run a campaign involving the Big Game?