The London Paralympics just started and it is expected to be a sold out crowd.
Any triumph at this sporting event is a triumph of the human spirit. The Paralympic athletes are not only competing for medals, but act as agents of social change. In the same vein as the Olympic athletes mentioned, which athletes do you think should capitalize on their name?
While we are still reeling from Olympic hangover, athletes and teams are cashing in on their newly gained popularity.
United States’ Ryan Lochte, 11-time Olympic medalist for swimming, wants to trademark his catchphrase “Jeah” for apparel and accessories, and filed for it last August 1, but is encountering some problems. Rapper MC Eiht claims that he “coined” the phrase in 1988 and feels slighted that he did not get recognition from Lochte as the originator. In addition, a company in Wisconsin has locally registered “Jeah Communications” in WI state and they have reportedly reached out to Lochte with a cease and desist.
The United States’ women’s gymnastics team seeks to register “Fierce Five” and filed last August 17, but someone else filed for the same mark six days prior and interestingly, the filer Paolo Mazza, is the same individual who filed for “Lin-sational” months back, in reference to then New York Knicks’ point guard Jeremy Lin.
The gymnasts are not out of luck. In the US ownership is granted to the individual or entity who shows prior use of the mark in commerce, and not necessarily the first to file for the mark, so Mr. Mazza does not automatically get a registration on the mere basis of his timeliness in filing.
However, few weeks before the group of five American female gymnasts were known as the “fierce five,” journalists were referring to them as the “fab five.” That name is owned by Jalen Rose, retired NBA athlete and currently an ESPN analyst. Rose thought that the media had it wrong, and should have thought of a more “creative tag” for the gymnasts. Rose and four other basketball players from University of Michigan were dubbed as the “fab five” back in 1991 when they were all recruited to play professional basketball for the NBA. The media eventually appeased Mr. Rose and hence the gymnasts are now referred to as the fierce five.
The practice of filing for an athlete’s identity or persona is not uncommon. A good number of athletes, Olympics or not, dabbled in business to bank on their popularity (or anticipation thereof).
Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt already owns “Bolt to the World” and “Usain Bolt.” Retired basketball player Shaquille O’ Neal owns “Shaq Attaq” and “Dunkman.” New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter owns “Turn 2.” Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin filed for his catchphrase “unbelievably believable.” Number one overall NBA draft pick for 2012, Anthony Davis, filed for “Fear the Brow” and “Raise the Brow” in reference to his unibrow. Austin Rivers, the 10th draft pick, has filed for the words tattooed on his left wrist, “Man on a Mission.”
Which athletes do you think should file for their trademarks?
Karla Aspiras is a Trademark Analyst at Interbrand NY.