Trademark of the Week: Ball So Hard University

Trademark of the Week: Ball So Hard University

The point of Trademark of the Week is not to point out the best athlete and trading card marks, but rather, to comment on some of the most noticeable. Or interesting. Or trademarks with an actual story.

Along those lines, this week's Trademark of the Week is courtesy of Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs' five trademark applications for "Ball So Hard University."

Trademark translation: No, Ball So Hard is not a real university. It's not a reference to Ball State (although that would have been great) or to an adult film. It's actually a reference to a Jay-Z song that Suggs made more famous by announcing that he attended, "Ball So Hard University" when the linebacker was introduced during a Pittsburgh v. Baltimore game last season.

After Suggs announced Ball So Hard was his alma mater (it's not, he went to ASU), it went viral and became a money maker. Now Suggs (through his production company called, Team Sizzle Films, Inc.) is protecting those rights.

You see, athlete trademarks other than nicknames can be valuable. Catchphrases have value too, as you can see from the sheer volume of Ball So Hard University "swag" for sale on Suggs and Team Sizzle's website. With trademark registrations in hand, Suggs will place himself in a powerful position to nationally protect his catchphrase.

Suggs is not the only player to capitalize on (and protect) catchphrases. In fact, his filing can be seen as a predecessor filing (since Suggs' filings are from Nov. 2011) to Bryce Harper's more recent catch phrase, "That's a Clown Question, Bro." Immediately after Harper responded to a reporter's question with this answer, his team filed a trademark application for that very phrase to stop other vendors from making money off of it. Days later, it was announced that Under Armour would be the exclusive vendor for a Clown Question line of clothing.

So, just like that, athlete catchphrases can make money.

Since athletes are in the public eye, it's much easier for their catch phrases or nicknames to be misappropriated by others. And that's why immediate filings are important. This helps avoid situations like the "linsane" mess where they will have to fight it out with others over who should actually own the trademark.

So, congratulations to Sugg's for quickly protecting the "Ball So Hard University" trademarks. Let's hope other athletes follow suit.

For those interested, the information on Suggs' trademark filing is provided below:

Word Mark BALL SO   HARD UNIVERSITY
Goods and Services IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037   038 050. G & S: Paper goods, namely, art prints, posters, unmounted and   mounted photographs, notebooks, and sports trading cards
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 85475990
Filing Date November 18, 2011
Current Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition May 1, 2012
Owner (APPLICANT) Team Sizzle Films,   Inc. CORPORATION DELAWARE Suite 201 4800 Roland Avenue Baltimore MARYLAND   21210
Attorney of Record Kimberly S. Grimsley
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

 

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Paul Lesko is a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy 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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