Football coaches moving to trademark their names

| Nov 9, 2013 | Trademark Law

For many major college football programs, the face of the team — and often the university — is the head football coach. Players come and go after using their eligibility, but coaches can be around for decades: think Bear Bryant at Alabama, Woody Hayes at Ohio State, and — despite his ultimate fall from grace — Joe Paterno at Penn State. Many football fans know these coaches intimately, or at least feel that they do.

These days, coaches are looking to capitalize on that level of recognition. As a result, coaches such as Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Dabo Swinney of Clemson are working toward, or already have, trademarked their names and licenses. This unique application of trademark law could provide an income stream for the school and the coach that might otherwise go unrealized — or could be capitalized by someone unaffiliated with the school.

The applications for this aren’t yet clear. In Swinney’s case, the spokesman for the company that licenses his name says that royalties haven’t made much of an impact yet. However, the coach’s agent says that a Swinney-branded line of casual wear could be in the future. This could be a big seller in football-crazy South Carolina — if the team continues to succeed, that is.

While many of our Sacramento readers won’t be interested in trademarking their own names or images, these sorts of developments show just how worthwhile the idea of trademarking can be. Even small business owners can benefit from developing a trademark — and prevent others from illicitly profiting from their intellectual property.

Source: USA Today, “Latest trend for college football coaches: Trademarked names,” Steve Berkowitz, Nov. 6, 2013