– Draeke Weseman, Weseman Law Office, PLLC
Last week, the Chicago Sun Times profiled Loeb & Loeb attorney Douglas Masters, the NCAA’s outside counsel in charge of trademark enforcement during March Madness. Licensing the official sponsorships is big business, and enforcement demands require Masters to send out hundreds of cease-and-desist letters to both accidental infringers and sneaky businesses trying to skirt around expensive trademark licenses. No doubt some of the enforcement demands are probably questionable – just like Steve noted during the Super Bowl, it’s fair to wonder if it’s really necessary to invent code words to invite customers to watch March Madness games with you. Some do:
Where the choice gets more interesting is where an official sponsor and a direct competitor overlap in their desire to capture audience attention during March Madness. Official sponsors pay the NCAA a pretty penny for a piece of the Madness while competitors attempt to dance around the “official” marks. Based on Twitter posts, can you pick out the official sponsors versus their competitors in the categories below?
Mobile Phone Service
Home Improvement Stores
Did anything about these posts tip you off? Want to know how you did? Here is a list of official sponsors, for those interested in keeping score:
Marketers, what do you think of the Twitter posts? Which posts were the most creative? If you were an official sponsor, would you be more direct about your sponsorship? Without looking on Twitter, any guess as to what other March event some competitors chose to officially sponsor instead?
Trademark attorneys, would you think about sending any of these competitors a cease-and-desist letter?