You may have noticed that businesses, and even some ordinary citizens, in New Jersey have become increasingly coy about using the term “Super Bowl” to refer to the sporting event that took place last Sunday, preferring vague appellations such as “The Big Game.” Why does the name of the game seem to have become taboo?
First of all, you should know that if you are an ordinary citizen using the term to describe a particular sporting event in a context unrelated to business, you are completely at liberty to use the term “Super Bowl” in speech or writing. According to Vox, the principle of nominative fair use applies to informative applications such as this that do not imply official sponsorship of the event.
The reason for the avoidance is that “Super Bowl” is a registered trademark of the National Football League, and business owners do not want to incur lawsuits for using it inappropriately. The NFL has owned the term “Super Bowl” since 1969 but seems to have become more proactive in defending it in recent years.
To be fair, the NFL does have a valid point. It charges millions of dollars for sponsors to license the logo and name of its biggest event. Sponsors are less likely to spend such exorbitant fees if non-sponsors are able to use the trademarks for free.
As always, however, there are exceptions to the rules governing the use of trademarks. For example, restaurants and bars can use the name to promote Super Bowl viewing parties, as long as they do not use any trademarked logos or give an impression of sponsoring the game.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.