Kaepernicking a Trademark Registration

Trademark RegistrationAs merchandisers get ready to sell their Super Bowl XLVII wares, one term is off the table. Colin Kaepernick, the celebrated quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers has filed a trademark application to register a trademark for the term “Kaepernicking.” While this may not be a household word yet (or… ever), fans of 49ers football are familiar with Kaepernick’s bicep-kissing victory dance – some would call it his trademark dance. Combine that with the super profit potential of Super Bowl memorabilia and you get Kaepernick’s aspiration for a trademark registration.

Kaepernick’s dance, known ostentatiously as Kaepernicking, could be just the kind of thing to move some trendy in-the-moment T-shirts, or other memorabilia. According to the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office, Kaepernick had his trademark attorney file a trademark application for him on January 14th for “clothing, namely shirts.” If his trademark strategy is successful, then Kaepernick’s trademark attorney may soon be Kaepernicking as well.

One might wonder why Kaepernick’s trademark application only covers shirts. Doesn’t his trademark attorney know there are numerous other lucrative memorabilia on which to apply the Kaepernicking mark? One can only speculate why this choice was made. But failing to name other memorabilia in the application does not mean that someone else can obtain a trademark registration for Kaepernicking for other merchandise. A trademark application for Kaepernicking by someone other than Colin Kaepernick is likely to get denied registration. There are a few rules that prevent trademarking another person’s name, especially if that person is famous. You can read more about this in a previous article we posted about Tim Tebow’s Trademark Application (click here to read). [http://www.trademarkaccess.com/tim-tebows-trademark-application/]

With Kaepernick’s hype and the upcoming Super Bowl, no doubt he has the necessary fame to prevent third parties from registering his signature moniker. Kaepernicking could easily end up on more than a few T-shirts. And Kaepernick is no doubt among celebs who realize the monetary value of cashing in on their hype with a well-timed trademark registration. Might as well get while the getting’s good, if it’s as easy as staking your claim to a trademark.

Other sports figures that have recently filed trademark applications to capitalize on their hype have perhaps paved the way for Kaepernick’s move. Jeremy Lin was successful in beating his trademark application opponents last year. He’s now the sole applicant for “Linsanity,” a popular phrase among certain merchandisers looking to cash in on his hype. And most relevant is Tim Tebow’s trademark for “Tebowing,” which is, of course, his famous end zone prayer stance.

While the hype, and therefore the value of these trademarks may be short lived, it can be very lucrative. In fact, retail sales of official (licensed) merchandise came to a whopping total of $12.79 billion in 2011 in the United States and Canada alone, according to The Licensing Letter’s Sports Licensing Report. It’s easy to see why trademark registration is important when that much money is at stake, in an industry prone to knock-offs.

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