Did the NFL Seriously Try to Trademark the Term “The Big Game”?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: The NFL tried to trademark “The Big Game.”

The National Football League is quite strict when it comes to protecting its trademarks, which include the words and phrases “NFL,” “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday” (a trademark registered specifically with regards to its use in conjunction with football).

As such, when it comes to hosting Super Bowl parties at churches and bars, the NFL prohibits Super Bowl parties at anywhere that promotes a particular message, which includes churches. In addition, unless you are a place that regularly airs sporting events (like a sports bar), you are constrained from using a TV bigger than 55 inches.

And, of course, you can not use the NFL’s trademarks like “Super Bowl” or “Super Sunday” in your advertisements.

So the most popular alternative is to say “The Big Game,” as in “Come Watch The Big Game This Sunday at 6pm!”

And that’s been the case for years, until the NFL, in 2006, actually registered a trademark claim on the term “The Big Game,” as well!!!

However, on top of a number of companies that advertise on the Super Bowl (like Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Wal-Mart) who protested the move, so, too, did the colleges of Stanford and California, who have been playing an annual match called “The Big Game” for decades!

Ultimately, mostly based on the Stanford/Cal argument, the NFL backed off their registration, but it’s still amazing to think that they actually went as far as to register the mark!

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

One Response to “Did the NFL Seriously Try to Trademark the Term “The Big Game”?”

  1. This is similar to the Saints and NFL claiming trademark over ‘Who Dat’ back in 2010. They backed off when it was shown that ‘Who Dat’ had been prior to the NFL claims (possibly back to 1898).

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