Boise State’s Trademark Registration for Blue Stadium Field: Trade Dress and Other Forms of Trademark Protection

The Blue Turf  Boise State recently licensed its blue field design to Hosei University near Tokyo, Japan.  See article here.  It turns out that Boise State possesses a trademark registration (U.S. Trademark re. No. 3,707,623) – which protects the color blue used on artificial turf in a stadium.  Boise State’s blue stadium field trademark and licensing deal is a good example of the value of some of the more atypical forms of trademark protection and the need to think outside the box when thinking about trademark registrations.

A blue football field is not normally what comes to mind when one thinks of trademarks, but it is very much protectable.  When the blue field appears on TV, you immediately recognize Boise State’s brand.  The blue field indicates to the consumer that this is an authentic Boise State football experience.  And Boise State wants to keep it that way.  That is why it filed for US Federal Trademark protection on its unique color scheme, allowing them to prevent others from copying its field and diluting Boise’s brand equity.  If other Universities were able to paint their fields blue, Boise State would lose its uniqueness.  Boise State was probably less concerned about dilution issues outside of the U.S. and hence, felt comfortable licensing it in Japan.  Boise State likely would be much more hesitant to license under its trademark registration within the United States.

Boise State’s blue turf is an interesting, unconventional trademark.  The non-traditional trademark protection that Boise State’s unique field bests fall under is “trade dress