Athlete Trademark of the Week – House of Spears

Athlete Trademark of the Week – House of Spears

Starting this week, Law of Cards will begin to look at interesting trademarks filed by athletes. Our first focus: Ndamukong Suh's trademarks for "House of Spears."

Why? A couple weeks ago, Anthony Davis dominated the news for two reasons. First, he allegedly filed trademark applications to protect his unibrow. And, oh yeah, second, he was the first overall pick in the NBA draft.

Not only was I shocked by the attention an athlete's trademark filings were receiving, I was also shocked by the number of news stories that got it wrong. Some people reported he had patent filings or that, as the title of this article states, he trademarked his unibrow. Worse yet, the title of this one suggests Davis' copyrighted something. At least patents and trademarks are examined by the same office (the United States Patent and Trademark Office). The Copyright Office is something completely different!

In reality, Anthony Davis filed five trademark applications for "Brow Down," "Anthony Davis," "Fear the Brow," "AD23" and "Raise the Brow." These applications are still new, so he has not received any registrations. Yet.

Of note (and why this is being reported on Cardboard Connection) is that these filings include "trading cards" among the Goods and Services that these marks will be utilized.

Now, this got me thinking. During my time writing for Cardboard Connection, I've seen numerous athletes file applications to protect marks that could be used on trading cards, and I've been negligent in reporting that!

Except of course for Linsanity and any Tim Tebow-related filing I could find…

OK, maybe not negligent, but I've let a few slide by without comment (like Davis').

No more!

And just recently, the Trademark Office complies with one of two "House of Spears" trademark filings.

Nope, these filings have nothing to do with Britney Spears (although it would be a great title for a Britney reality TV series). They have to do with Ndamukong Suh. The information for this application is provided below:

Word Mark HOUSE OF SPEARS
Goods and Services IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: Printed matter, namely, posters, trading cards; commemorative books and souvenir programs concerning professional football championship games and football season reviews and summariesIC 025. US 022 039. G & S: Clothing, namely, shirts, pants, caps, athletic shoes, shoes and jacketsIC 028. US 022 023 038 050. G & S: Sporting goods, namely, footballs, toys in the nature of collector helmets and souvenir helmets
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 85032128
Filing Date May 6, 2010
Current Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition November 2, 2010
Owner (APPLICANT) Suh, Ndamukong N. INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 1201 Lincoln Mall, Suite 102 c/o Rembolt Ludtke LLP Lincoln NEBRASKA 68508
Attorney of Record Andrew S. Pollock
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

The reason "House of Spears" showed up on the Trademark Office radar is because he just filed a Statement of Use (Legal translation: To get a trademark you need to actually use your mark in commerce, so he sent in a picture showing that), so he'll be receiving this second registration any day now.

Unlike quite a few dumb nicknames out there that are simply thrown together because they play on athletes' names (cough, "Durantula," cough), this mark has a good story. In the Ngemba language of Cameroon, Ndamukong means "House of Spears."

Kind of apropos when he spears a quarterback into the ground.

So, congratulations to Suh for getting his second registration from the Trademark Office. More importantly, congratulations on it not being Suh-mething Suh-tupid.

That would Suh-ck.

The information provided in Paul Lesko's "Law of Cards" column is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered in the sports industry. This information is not intended to create any legal relationship between Paul Lesko, the Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC or any attorney and the user. Neither the transmission nor receipt of these website materials will create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the readers.

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Paul Lesko is a shareholder at Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides and Barnerd LLC and the chair of its Intellectual Property Department (http://www.simmonsfirm.com). Don’t hold the fact that Paul is a lawyer against him, he’s also a rabid baseball and college basketball fan, and an avid baseball card collector. Paul can be found on Twitter @Paul_Lesko and Google+.

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