It’s no secret that the NFL is very protective of its trademarks, which include team names and event names like Super Bowl and Pro Bowl. Even though people don’t think about it much, only certain entities are allowed to use specific terms and images related to Pro Football, due to intellectual property rights.
Trademarked Names that Require Permission
- Super Bowl
- Super Sunday
- National Football League
- AFC and NFC
- Team Nicknames
Media Promotions and Parties
In order for a TV station to bill itself as the “Super Bowl Station,” it needs to reach a licensing agreement with the NFL. Media outlets that have not gotten permission to use the term “Super Bowl” often use the phrase “The Big Game” or “The Pro Football Championship Game” instead. News and media outlets, however, may be exempt under the “nominal fair use” clause of simply reporting game facts including the names of the teams.
The reason why the NFL has such strict rules about the use of its trademarks is that pro football is the most popular sport in America, allowing it to command high advertising rates. The NFL exercises its intellectual property rights to the fullest because it can. The organization can prove its games help nightclubs generate revenue, which is why nightclubs must pay licensing fees to show NFL games on TV screens.
According to NFL rules, no one may publicly rebroadcast the game without the league’s permission. Furthermore, no entity can publicly broadcast a game on a screen larger than 55 inches diagonally.
Use of NFL and Team Logos
Websites are not allowed to use NFL or football team logos without proper permission or licensing. Many football photos found online are used in violation of team trademarks or the copyright owned by the photographer. Additionally, players have rights that protect themselves from being exploited by third parties using their images. These strict laws on copyrights and trademarks are designed to protect the teams, which profit from selling team jerseys, caps and other merchandise bearing team logos.
The NFL owns helmet and uniform designs as well as the colors, emblems, and symbols on uniforms. In order to gain a license to display these trademarks, a business usually must meet corporate licensing requirements such as operating a business for at least three years, providing a prepaid royalty guarantee of $100,000 and proof of a commercial insurance policy of $6 million and liability coverage of $12 million.