Super Bowl Trademark Foolishness

This story was interesting.  Many stories are having sales and promotions for the Super Bowl.  However, they can’t use the word “Super Bowl” in their advertisements.  “Super Bowl” is trademarked.  The NFL aggressively sues any business that uses the word “Super Bowl” without paying a licensing fee.

Most stores use “Big Game” instead.  The NFL tried to trademark that phrase also, but lost.

That techdirt post missed the point.  He said that some small businesses should stand up to the NFL for abusing its trademark.  He’s missing the point.  No small business can afford the legal fees with a lawsuit against the deep-pocketed NFL.  A large business won’t risk losing a ton of money via legal extortion and a lawsuit loss.

State law encourages such foolishness, in multiple ways.

Due to the way trademark law works, the NFL *IS REQUIRED* to aggressively defend its trademark.  Otherwise, the NFL forfeits its trademark.

Also, damages are set to be ridiculously high.  That encourages lawsuits.

Trademarks are often abused.  Here is another example.  One designer trademarked the idea of red soled shoes.  If that trademark holds up after a lawsuit, then nobody else will ever be allowed to make red soled shoes!

Here are more examples of trademark foolishness.  Essentially, most of the names are “used up”.  If you make a new product, you have to make sure that the name has no resemblance to any name that was ever used before.  Otherwise, you can be the victim in a lawsuit.  That’s why many new products have ridiculous-sounding names.  They have to make sure it’s a name that hasn’t been used before, and doesn’t resemble anything that’s been used before.

In some ways, trademarks are more evil than patents and copyrights.  Patents only last for 34 years.  Copyrights only last for 75 years (but there are more and more retroactive extensions).  A trademark lasts *FOREVER*.  (at least until the State collapses)  If a phrase or idea is trademarked, then other people are absolutely barred from using it without a license.  For example, one guy got a trademark for “goat on a roof”, and he goes around suing other people that put goat signs on a roof.  Why should everyone be forever barred from doing this, just because one guy filed for a trademark?

The correct answer is “Intellecutal property is not property”.  That applies to patents, trademarks, and copyrights.  Why should everyone be forever be banned from using an idea or phrase, just because someone filed paperwork with the State.  In a really free market, there are no patents, trademarks, or copyrights.

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