Annual Reminder: You Can Probably Just Call The Super Bowl The Super Bowl

from the touchdown dept

It's that special time of year again where we here at Techdirt need to remind you that, no, the NFL cannot keep you from referring to The Super Bowl as The Super Bowl, full stop. While the NFL stomps around the entire country every year, slapping down bars and churches for hosting Super Bowl parties, all while an extremely unhelpful media plays along, the truth is that most of the bullying the NFL does isn't over actual trademark infringement. Sure, if some business advertises some association or endorsement by the NFL, that would be trademark infringement. Or if they claimed endorsement of the game or the NFL, that too would be infringing use. But a church simply hosting a Super Bowl party is not trademark infringement.

And, of course, the silliest output of this confusion is people and companies using half-baked euphemisms to refer to the Super Bowl instead. Everyone knows what they're talking about and, yet, this somehow isn't infringing. So, were there any confusion, it would still exist, and yet the NFL relents. The most common of these has been "The Big Game", of course, and its use continues to this day.

Restaurants have taken to calling it the Big Game because the NFL trademarked the name "Super Bowl" and jealously defends its use. But whatever you call it, Dallas restaurants are offering a superabundance of specials and takeout options for Sunday's game. We'll just call them Super Bowl specials because we can.

And so can everyone else. Really. Go ahead. This "the Big Game" nonsense is modernity's "fire in a crowded theater." But, because trademark bullying works, and everyone is so terrified of the NFL, instead you get this...

Not to be tripped up by trademark hassles, GAPCo got creative in naming their game-day deal. The Superb Owl Sampler includes 12 garlic knots, 12 toasted ravioli (six cheese, six beef), 12 pizza poppers with large ranch and sauces for dipping. The sampler ($55) feeds up to 10 people.

How the hell do you even parody something like that?

But if you really want to get yourself irritated, actual United States government agencies are getting in on this euphemistic bullshit. And the US Consumer Product Safety Commission actually made this all sillier with its own messaging on Twitter.

Why in the name of Tom Brady's sweaty jock strap would you put out a tweet that names the Super Bowl and then put out an image that uses a euphemism for it? And, related: "the Large Football Game"? I'm frankly tempted to see that graphic as an attempt to poke fun at the NFL for its protectionist nonsense, but somehow I don't think the USPSC has that much of a sense of humor.

Stop. STOP. Stop giving the NFL a power it doesn't actually have. Stop acting like the league can somehow gatekeep reality. It can't. Just call the Super Bowl by its damned name. It's not Voldemort, after all.

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Filed Under: large football game, super bowl, superb owl, the big game, trademark
Companies: nfl


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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 3 Feb 2021 @ 7:38pm

    I would prefer to call it the toilet bowl, at this point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Crafty Coyote, 3 Feb 2021 @ 8:39pm

    Just call it the Million Dollar Game and be done with it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byi9EqiiCsc

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Feb 2021 @ 8:49pm

    Didn't we just have this conversation?

    [1][Oh yeah we did.]

    So, I'll just reiterate the same comment: That's what you get when you allow contracts to trump everything else. Those who have the money to dictate the terms get what they want, and everyone else gets screwed over.

    Don't like it? Start protecting the rights of others like a sane country. The EU does this if you need an example. Otherwise yes, your ability to speak is defined and limited by those with money. (I thought that's what you wanted given the whole Citizens United thing.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Feb 2021 @ 8:51pm

      Re: Didn't we just have this conversation?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 11:38am

      Re: Didn't we just have this conversation?

      That's what you get when you allow contracts to trump everything else.

      What does this have to do with contracts? Those restaurants frightened of naming their specials after the Super Bowl don't have a contract with the NFL.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 12:26pm

        Re: Re: Didn't we just have this conversation?

        What does this have to do with contracts?

        Like all laws in a democracy, Trademarks are a social contract. We the people allow the trademark owners exclusivity on certain wordplay in advertising and marketing, so that we can have transparency, and properly informed consumers making good decisions because of it, in the marketplace.

        Those restaurants frightened of naming their specials after the Super Bowl don't have a contract with the NFL.

        No, but they do have to abide by trademark law, which has it's scope expanded again and again (like all other forms of IP) over the years. Now instead of Trademarks being limited to the industry in which they were originally filed, they can impact any industry with even the smallest relation to the original. The consequences have not changed in scope however, and the result are stories like this one where an unrelated company is scared of infringing upon the Trademarks of a completely different industry as if they were direct competitors and the threat of bankruptcy that often comes with it.

        Again, those with the money to dictate the terms do so. Everyone else gets screwed. If you think otherwise, why not open a regional restaurant chain and try a mass marketing campaign for your "Super Bowl" themed dish? I'm sure the NFL would love to take on your challenge.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Feb 2021 @ 9:29pm

    Stop. STOP. Stop giving the NFL a power it doesn't actually have.

    Stop watching their drivel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 3 Feb 2021 @ 9:32pm

    Drive the lawyers insane

    Call it the "Superbowl Olympics".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bobvious, 4 Feb 2021 @ 2:09am

    As we sit around the Supper Bowl

    and consider the Superb Owl (Supra Strigidae), we reflect on the hyperbole of superbole.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 3:15am

    I like to call it the Hyperbowl

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 3:16am

    Given their numbers, it's a self-correcting problem

    The NFL has already lost a huge swath of its viewers over the "take a knee" bullshit**, so keep it up and alienate even more fans.

    ** And if you don't think it's absolute bullshit, then I invite you to explain why we should take them seriously when they tend to get reflexively butthurt over their continued relationship with companies that exploit the Uyghurs. Cuz slavery 150 years ago is way more important than profiting off of it today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 3:55am

      Re: Given their numbers, it's a self-correcting problem

      It's ok for Kim Davis but not ok for NFL players to act upon their beliefs while at work?

      Why are you so offended by the knee? Did you serve?
      Were you similarly offended by Donald (bone spurs) Trump when he called members of the armed forces losers or when he besmirched Gold Star families?

      Why do we do the anthem thing before tribalistic gladiator porn anyway, it's stupid.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:02am

        Re: Re: Given their numbers, it's a self-correcting problem

        "It's ok for Kim Davis but not ok for NFL players to act upon their beliefs while at work?"

        The sad thing is that he probably thinks that Davis's refusal to do her job because the legal and valuable service she would have provided to people was inconvenient to her claimed beliefs, while the silent, unobtrusive protest from players, taking place outside of the game clock that affected exactly no part of their job, is unacceptable. And he won't be able to explain why without going way off the rails in some way.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:25am

          The sad part here

          Is that you think any of this is relevant to what I said.

          All I said was that the behavior of the athletes is pissing off many of their most important patrons to the point they're not participating.

          Thus it is a self-correcting problem.

          Here you are running around trying to engage in mind-reading games and implied whataboutisms.

          Pathetic.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:34am

            Re: The sad part here

            "All I said was"
            " And if you don't think it's absolute bullshit, then .."

            yup, that's what you said

            "behavior of the athletes is pissing off many of their most important patrons to the point they're not participating"

            Wait - is what you describe an example of cancel culture?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:48am

            Re: The sad part here

            "All I said was that the behavior of the athletes is pissing off many of their most important patrons to the point they're not participating"

            Cool, that's your choice. As it is the choice of others to not participate due to the treatment those players got for a peaceful and unobtrusive protest of things more important than a glorified children's game.

            "Here you are running around trying to engage in mind-reading games and implied whataboutism"

            When cinemas are allowed to reopen, you guys should rent yourselves out the theatres. You have IMAX beaten in the projection game hands down.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 6:23am

              Re: Re: The sad part here

              I'm not projecting anything. Unlike you, I'm actually watching the numbers and noting that the YoY decline in NFL viewership strongly predates COVID-19.

              I don't care because sports aren't my thing, but I do think it's funny.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 6:45am

                Re: Re: Re: The sad part here

                yes, but did you demonstrate that said reduction is due to the taking of a knee as you claimed?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Bloof (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 6:54am

                Re: Re: Re: The sad part here

                How are NHL ratings doing? Nascar? Baseball? Pro wrestling? How did Vince McMahon's 'We won't let the black players protest!' Football league do? All going from strength to strength because they're less political and will benefit from all the millions of conservatives changing their viewing habits, I'm sure.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 7:13am

                Re: Re: Re: The sad part here

                "I don't care"

                Yet, you are here trying to argue as if you do...

                "I'm actually watching the numbers "

                People who actually don't care wouldn't even glance at the numbers, let alone argue with people about them on a thread about trademark enforcement.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 4:59am

      Re: Given their numbers, it's a self-correcting problem

      "The NFL has already lost a huge swath of its viewers over the "take a knee" bullshit"

      The funny thing is, if you didn't add the moronic note underneath, I wouldn't have been able to tell if you were referring to the silent, unobtrusive protest outside of the gameplay clock, or the NFL's blacklisting of certain players who participated in it.

      "Cuz slavery 150 years ago is way more important than profiting off of it today"

      This might surprise you, but Colin Kaepernick was not protesting slavery 150 years ago, he was protesting the current and long ongoing disproportionate use of police violence. Your pathetic whataboutism won't change reality, though you are always desperate to minimise real issues facing people who don't look like you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:21am

        Re: Re: Given their numbers, it's a self-correcting problem

        Your pathetic whataboutism won't change reality, though you are always desperate to minimise real issues facing people who don't look like you.

        Back in the real world, a female BLM activist savagely beat her white foster child to death in a clearly racially motivated hate crime and child's death got no play outside of far right circles compared to any number of "black felon got shot being a felon."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:36am

          Re: Re: Re: Given their numbers, it's a self-correcting problem

          Oh!
          Look - over there

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:45am

          Re: Re: Re: Given their numbers, it's a self-correcting problem

          Like I said - your pathetic whataboutism won't change reality. You found a single anecdote - well done. Even in the unlikely case that you just told the whole, unvarnished truth, that doesn't change the fact that the players were protesting current disproportionate abuse and murder of certain races.

          "clearly racially motivated hate crime"

          In what way? Surely you're not stupid enough to believe that BLM means that nobody else's life matters rather than the clearly intended Black Lives ALSO Matter message associated with the movement (which, yes, includes non-black people among their supporters)? Do you have any evidence of such motivation other than the shaky prejudices that have been fed to you?

          "got no play outside of far right circles"

          There's usually very good reason for that. Invariably, when you look at the facts of a case, there's a reason why nobody outside of a desperate echo chamber is looking at it in the same way they do.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bloof (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:25am

      Re: Given their numbers, it's a self-correcting problem

      I remember when the American right praised Tim Tebow for his politics and continually making religious gestures on field. Funny how politics is only ever a problem when it's from the left, huh?

      Tv ratings are down across the board. Correlation is not causation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:29am

        It is for pro sports

        Tv ratings are down across the board. Correlation is not causation.

        Learn to read the room. Literally no conservative I know is watching football anymore. ESPN has lost so many paying viewers that it's headed toward bankruptcy.

        But yeah, keep telling yourself that it's just COVID-19 and chord cutting, not viewers voting to consume other content because they don't like what they see.

        And isn't that what TechDirt always tells people? Vote with your feet? Build your own platform? Freedom of association is an inviolable right as long as you're not being racisssst? (Oh wait, maybe we should force them to view the content since they're clearly a bunch of Nazis)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:39am

          Re: It is for pro sports

          Perhaps actual data on the topic would reveal some insight into ....
          awww, who am I kidding - you don't care about facts.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:54am

          Re: It is for pro sports

          "Literally no conservative I know is watching football anymore."

          So? I know nobody who will admit to watching the Kardashians, yet people apparently do.

          "Vote with your feet? Build your own platform?"

          Yes. Nobody's forcing you to do things you don't want, and if you feel the need to sacrifice something you'd normally participate in so that you can send a political message, all power to you. You might just be reaching false conclusions due to your echo chamber mentality and failure to factor in aspects of the real world that don't conform to your preconceived assumptions. Let's see how it all pans out now that competent adults are back in charge of dealing with at least some of the other factors.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Bloof (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 6:38am

          Re: It is for pro sports

          Given how much of a bee in your bonnet you seen to have about black people protesting over the fact they're subjected to state sanctioned murder, I wouldn't be surprised if people told you what you wanted to hear to make you go away.

          'Yeah, sure,we care about this non issue, can you shut up about it now? Also can you not bother us Superbowl weekend, we'll be busy... Painting the lounge.'

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 11:42am

        Re: Re: Given their numbers, it's a self-correcting problem

        I remember when the American right praised Tim Tebow for his politics and continually making religious gestures on field.

        Didn't he kneel after scoring a touchdown? I wonder what possible reason there could be that the religious right objects to some kneeling and not others.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bluegrass Geek (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 11:36am

      Re: Given their numbers, it's a self-correcting problem

      NFL's ratings decline began before Kapernick took a knee. But I don't expect you to let facts get in the way of your preconceived notions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 3:30am

    They benefit from the * parties because that ups their ad rates, but I kind of like calling it the Pro Football 55 championship or The Big Game with KC vs. TB.

    A lot of this isn't trademark pressure but simple leverage of knowing that the counterparties want to remain on good terms with the NFL for interviews, media access, and promotions. They can call it The * if they want, but might find themselves shut out of something lucrative. The NFL also licenses things like official bookie so they do have an interest in protecting the name.

    Yes, they have their head up their asses. They're the ones who called it the SUPER BOWL back when they needed people to tune in to what was really just a fringe sport.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 3:32am

    Not Voldemort

    Would be funny to have everyone call it "the game that must not be named," though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 4:35am

    It's not Voldemort, after all.

    But the NFL can send in the dementors....I mean lawyers..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:10am

    As a non American, I'll keep on calling it the Superb Owl as the thought of Americans worshipping a really great nocturnal bird of prey once a year is better than what a lot of them genuinely believe in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2021 @ 5:22am

    Didn't the NFL try and trademark The Big Game as well?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 8:35am

    The problem here is the problem with our legal system writ large: people who have the money to litigate can make life very unpleasant for people who do things they don't like, even if those things are perfectly legal. Sure, if the NFL sues you for saying "Super Bowl", you're going to win in the end, but who wants to deal with that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jimbo, 4 Feb 2021 @ 12:20pm

    but

    Maybe it is Voldemort

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 3:33pm

    Nope.

    For me it's the Momentous January Sports Event.

    It's some kind of cult thing that I stay home from every year because people suddenly feel compelled to form large excited crowds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bobvious, 4 Feb 2021 @ 4:22pm

    Has the NFL copypatented

    Super Spreader Event yet?

    As an aside, English Football has been described as:

    "40 000 folk sitting around in weather they wouldn't work in, watching 22 grown blokes kick a leather windbag 'round a wet paddock"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 4 Feb 2021 @ 9:56pm

      Re: Has the NFL copypatented

      You forgot the part about them being millionaires who, despite playing a kids game for a living, can't withstand so much as a mild tap on the foot without being stretchered out in agony, but otherwise accurate IMHO.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 5 Feb 2021 @ 7:25am

        Re: Re: Has the NFL copypatented

        can't withstand so much as a mild tap on the foot without being stretchered out in agony

        You clearly do not know much about American football. Read "Slow Getting Up" if you want to find out about the kind of pain these guys deal with on a daily basis. The NFL has a lot of problems, but players who can't handle a minor injury is not one of them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 5 Feb 2021 @ 7:34am

          Re: Re: Re: Has the NFL copypatented

          Cool. What does that have to do with me mocking the fairies in the English Premier League?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 5 Feb 2021 @ 7:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Has the NFL copypatented

            Oops, context fail.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 5 Feb 2021 @ 8:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Has the NFL copypatented

              No problem :) If we were talking rugby vs NFL I might be tempted to have an argument, but honestly, I don't care that much about sports either way. I can appreciate some of the physical aspects involved, but I have numerous things I'd much rather spend my time watching.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Bobvious, 5 Feb 2021 @ 7:23pm

        Re: Re: Has the NFL copypatented

        And don't forget that this sounds best when spoken with an exasperated Yorkshire accent.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2021 @ 8:29am

    Just call it the Annual head injury celebration.
    Bought to you by The BBfBS* committee.

    *(Bigger Boats for Brain Surgeons)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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