With the Super Bowl at the forefront of the sports world once again, it’s a good time to discuss the copyright issues that could arise from your use of the phrase "Super Bowl." That’s right, the use of the name of the biggest game in all of sports is … off limits? Or is it? For the answer, look no further than U.S. Trademark Registration No. 0882283.
In short, a trademark of the term "Super Bowl" enforced its exclusive rights against retailers, bars and businesses from using it for profit. That means every business (a bar, for instance, showing the game on one of its many, many gigantic television screens) would have to buy a license in order to use the phrase to attract, entice or otherwise wheedle customers who would ultimately spend money at said establishment simply because of the game.
The NFL is notorious for sending cease and desist letters or even publishing ads warning retailers not to use "Super Bowl" without a license. This year, the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee even contacted every municipality in the state of New Jersey in order to outline the steps necessary to hold Super Bowl-related events without violating any NFL trademark rules.
The lesson here? The Super Bowl (i.e. "The Big Game" – something the NFL also unsuccessfully tried to trademark) is one of those events where you could certainly develop materials or signs that may run afoul of trademarks. And while it may be just a game, the league is more than willing to get lawyers involved in your Super celebration if they feel the need arises.