While Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs may be good at defending the quarterback, he has a lot to learn about protecting his intellectual property. Suggs recently lost a race to the federal trademark office, after trying to cash in on a stunt he pulled before the team’s recent playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If you follow the NFL, you are likely familiar with the opening of the telecast where the players of each team state their names and the universities they attended. During the Nov. 6 game, Suggs introduced himself as “Sizzle” and a graduate of “Ball So Hard University.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, shortly after the game, an entrepreneur named Brian Bussells applied for a trademark on “Ball So Hard University,” with the intention of using the mark on T-shirts and other apparel. He beat Suggs to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by 10 days.
Now, the two men and their respective business enterprises are fighting over who should have the rights to the “Ball So Hard University” mark. Suggs’ lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bussells, claiming that the use of the mark is false and misleading, creates confusion, and also violates Suggs’ rights of publicity.
Bussells is currently selling merchandise at BallSoHardU.com. Meanwhile, Suggs’ company Team Sizzle Worldwide is offering licensed “Ball So Hard” merchandise on its website.
Unlike many who face Suggs on the football field, Bussells doesn’t appear to be backing down. Therefore, the trademark dispute will likely come down to how and when each party used the catchphrase in commerce.
For more information about the requirements for using a trademark in commerce, please contact me.