Ridiculous Sports Trademarks

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2015

Ridiculous Sports Trademarks

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    Doug McSchooler/Associated Press

    For a sports figure to file a trademark application in hopes of profit isn't ridiculous in theory.

    Daniel Glazer, senior editor of The Trademark Reporter, told Katie Thomas of The New York Times, "Most of these athletes have a very limited period of time where they have their primary earning years, and this is a way to capitalize on their fame and maximize their earnings during their playing career."

    However, while trademarking something that is unique to you can definitely be a savvy move, some trademarks are just ridiculous. Some of the phrases are really out there, or they're just too common. Some applications seem to jump the gun, and some, well—some involve eyebrows.

    To be clear, not all of the following are actual or current trademarks. Some are, but a few have simply been filed for, and others are former trademarks. This also doesn't include relatively sensible trademarks of iconic phrases, such as Reggie Jackson and "Mr. October" or Michael Buffer and "Let’s get ready to rumble!"

Honorable Mention: Names

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    Bill Haber/Associated Press

    It's not that ridiculous to trademark a widely popular phrase that actually includes your unique name—think: "Tebowing," "Linsanity" and "Manny Being Manny."

    Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin, and Manny Ramirez all hold, or did hold, trademarks for these phrases inspired by their names.


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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Pat Riley applied for a trademark on the term "three-peat" in 1988. At the time, he was coaching the Los Angeles Lakers. Later, when the Chicago Bulls achieved a three-peat, Riley made approximately $300,000 in royalties, according to Chris Jones of ESPN the Magazine.

    Obviously, this turned out to be a very smart business move for the coach. However, at the time, it probably seemed a little out there to apply for such a trademark.

'Got Strange?'

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    David Seelig/Associated Press

    Defensive end Jared Allen has a trademark on the phrase "Got Strange?" According to Forbes, both camouflage hunting and rodeo apparel are listed on the application as protected pieces of merchandise.

'Unbelievably Believable,' Etc.

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    In 2012, not long after the Washington Redskins drafted him No. 2 overall, Robert Griffin III filed for a few trademarks.

    In fact, according to The Washington Post, Griffin's company filed for a total of seven trademarks before the end of the year: "RGIII," "RG3," "Robert Griffin III," "Unbelievably Believable," "Go Catch Your Dream," "Light You Up," "Work Hard Stay Humble," "No Pressure No Diamonds" and "Dream Big Live Bigger."

    Some of these seem a bit generic, but at least Griffin could make fun of himself about the trademark-a-palooza in a 2014 Nissan ad.

'Black Mamba' Mayweather

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    When you think of the "Black Mamba," who do you think of? I'm guessing it's not Floyd Mayweather's uncle.

    All the same, Roger Mayweather filed for a trademark of "Black Mamba" in 2014, according to TMZ. Mayweather is a former boxer and current trainer who has supposedly been using the moniker for years.

'That's a Clown Question, Bro'

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    In 2012, a reporter asked then-19-year-old Bryce Harper what kind of Canadian beer he might celebrate with after a game. The Washington Nationals outfielder famously replied with, "That's a clown question, bro," and the simple retort immediately began trending on Twitter.  

    The phrase blew up so much, in fact, that Harper filed for a trademark the very next day, according to The Washington Post. The remark has since been used by other bigwigs in Washington, such as the Senate majority leader and the White House press secretary.

'Stomp You Out'

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    David Duprey/Associated Press

    Michael Strahan displayed his signature move, the "Stomp You Out," following his New York Giants' defeat of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He trademarked the phrase shortly thereafter.

'Famous Jameis'

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Jameis Winston is a Heisman Trophy winner and projected first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. That said, perhaps it's a little early to be trademarking a nickname?

    Or not. According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, Winston filed the paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to secure "Famous Jameis" in February 2015. This was a nickname bestowed upon him during his time as the quarterback at Florida State University.

'He Hate Me'

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    Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    Rod Smart played in the NFL, the Canadian Football League and the XFL. During his time with the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, Smart went by the the nickname "He Hate Me," and he even had it put on the back of his jersey.

    In terms of how the nickname came about, Don Collins of USA Today reported that Smart said it was "just something I've always said. I like competition. If I'm beating someone, he's not going to like it." At some point, Smart had the phrase trademarked.

'I Love Me Some Me'

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Of course Terrell Owens is on this list. In a very anti-Rod Smart move, T.O. trademarked the phrase, "I love me some me."

    In January 2008, The Dallas Morning News reported that Owens had filed for trademark protection of his oft-used phrase. The application listed a few intended uses, including cups, restaurants and clothing. Right, because who wouldn't want an "I love me some me" cup?

'Johnny Cleveland,' Etc.

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Johnny Manziel and his company, JMan2 Enterprises LLC, have filed for a total of 10 trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  

    The most famous, of course, is "Johnny Football," which Manziel won the rights to after a dispute with an investment firm. Other phrases that Manziel has gone after include "The House that Johnny Built" and, more recently, "Johnny Cleveland."

    "Johnny Cleveland" seems particularly ridiculous given the fact that Manziel wasn’t even the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns when he filed in September 2014. And given how things turned out when he did get a start, I’m not sure that "Johnny Cleveland" shirts are going to be flying off shelves in the future.

'I'm Just Here so I Won't Get Fined'

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Marshawn Lynch made headlines when he repeated "I'm just here so I won't get fined" 29 times at Super Bowl XLIX media day. Now, the running back is attempting to trademark the phrase.

    Lynch already owns the rights to "Beast Mode." According to The Seattle Times, his goal is to profit from the sale of apparel and merchandise bearing his trademarks. It looks like talking to the media might have been a good idea after all.


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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    It's true, the nickname of Syracuse University is simply "Orange." However, it would seem a bit unorthodox to attempt to trademark a color.

    According to Allie Grasgreen of Inside Higher Ed, the university first trademarked the word "orange" in 2006, but by 2011, other colleges started to take notice. Schools that include orange as part of their primary colors, like the University of Tennessee and Oklahoma State University, indicated that they preferred an amicable relationship with Syracuse, however.

    The important thing to note is that Syracuse did not trademark the color orange, just the word. Still, it’s a pretty common word, so it’s a fine line.

'Non-Green' Playing Surfaces

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    Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    Speaking of trademarking colors, Boise State University owns a federal trademark on its famous blue turf. Actually, it's not just blue—Boise State controls the use of any "non-green" fields. The university issues free licenses to some schools for the use of non-green fields, but it denies others.

    According to Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman, Rachael Bickerton, Boise State director of trademark licensing and enforcement, said, "We didn't do this to make money. We did it to protect our uniqueness."


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    Scott Eklund/Associated Press

    If trademarking a color seems odd, how about a number?

    The Seattle Seahawks couldn't get a trademark for "The 12th Man," a phrase used by both them and the Texas A&M Aggies to describe their loyal fanbases.

    However, as of January 2015, the Seahawks were reportedly attempting to trademark a bunch of other stuff too, including the number 12 itself.

Anthony Davis' Unibrow

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    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Shortly before becoming the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Anthony Davis filed for trademarks on "Fear The Brow" and "Raise The Brow." The one thing that is possibly more famous than Davis' basketball talent is his unibrow.

    At the time, Darren Rovell reported for CNBC that Davis said, "I don't want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it. Me and my family decided to trademark it because it's very unique."

    I don't know about a unibrow being "very unique," but trademarking one certainly must be.


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