Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Athletes use trademarks to protect their brands

Many New Jersey sports fans like to buy merchandise to celebrate their favorite athletes. Understanding the popularity and potential marketability of their name and catchphrases, famous athletes often apply for trademarks in order to protect their brands. Some trademarks are secured after a catchphrase becomes popular, but others are filed early before a phrase has even caught the public's attention.

People who watched the Rio Olympics are probably familiar with the 'World's Fastest Man," eight-time Olympic gold-medalist Usain Bolt. The Jamaican runner has trademarked an icon of his signature pose, the phrase 'Bolt to the world" and his name in several fonts. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps trademarked the 'MP" logo that decorated his swim cap at the Olympics. One of the most well known trademarks owned by an athlete is Lance Armstrong's 'Livestrong" logo.

Many athletes trademark logos and phrases as a shrewd business strategy, and these athletes may secure the trademarks before they are ready to use them to market products. However, a new trademark must be used on commercial products within three years or it will lapse and the athlete will lose it. NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III had several phrases trademarked, but he let all but two of the trademarks lapse. The trademarks he kept were for his nickname 'RGIII" and the phrase 'Know Your Why."

People may have to act fast if they want to be the first to secure a trademark for a popular phrase. A trademark law attorney may be able to help an individual to identify phrases and logos that have profit potential and protect these phrases and logos from imitation by securing trademarks.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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