If you have heard of Penn State, you have probably heard the phrase “Happy Valley.” The school, the students, and the media regularly use “Happy Valley” in reference to the school and the surrounding community. The school considers the association so strong that Penn State recently applied to register HAPPY VALLEY as a trademark for clothing – and received a refusal to register.

The Trademark Office examining attorney assigned to the application refused registration on the ground the phrase “Happy Valley” is geographically descriptive. This means that the examining attorney concluded the public will see the phrase simply as describing the geographic area where the school is located. The school’s own website seems to confirm the examining attorney’s concerns, as it describes “Happy Valley” as an “also known as” name for the town, State College.

But don’t worry Penn State fans. The university has a strong chance to overcome the refusals so long as Penn State can demonstrate the HAPPY VALLEY trademark has acquired distinctiveness in the minds of consumers. Marks that may initially be considered geographically descriptive or may become distinctive after sufficient use of the mark in commerce.

For example, use of a trademark for five years or longer may be sufficient to overcome a refusal on this ground. In fact, the examining attorney expressly references this option in the Office Action. Accordingly, chances are good Penn State can overcome this refusal simply by submitting a declaration that the university has used the mark in commerce for more than five years. However, the Trademark Office will also consider other evidence such as widespread advertising efforts, significant sales numbers, and substantial media attention and publicity.

As a fellow alum of a Big Ten university (which university isn’t important), I wanted to provide some assistance in gathering evidence in support of Penn State’s potential claim of acquired distinctiveness for the HAPPY VALLEY trademark.

If you’ve heard of Penn State, you know they receive a lot of publicity for their college sports teams. For example, this ESPN article prominently uses HAPPY VALLEY to refer to Penn State with its headline “Iowa silences No. 5 Penn State in Happy Valley.”

The Penn State wrestling program is also among the best in the country. Historically, the Happy Valley-based wrestling squad has the third-most successful program in the country, with 8 (!!) NCAA national championships , just slightly trailing Iowa’s 23 national championships.

Last, but certainly not least, Penn State can point to a visit last month from the Big Ten Tournament Champions and presumptive NCAA ’s basketball player of the year Megan Gustafson. Yet again Penn State received some great publicity associating the claimed HAPPY VALLEY mark with the University, as media ran with the headline “Iowa Cruises in Happy Valley.”

With all this evidence, Penn State fans should feel good about the likelihood they’ll soon be able to purchase HAPPY VALLEY t-shirts with a ® symbol adjacent to the phrase (exclusively from a licensed retailer). Of course, if they need more evidence, I’m sure I can find some fellow Big Ten organizations that would be happy to add some new headlines in 2019.

Lee Corso (former coach and ESPN football analyst) frequently utters this famous sports media catchphrase on ESPN’s “College GameDay” program: “Not so fast, my friend!

The first three words of that phrase come to mind upon hearing that THRILLED Daniel Snyder (majority owner of the NFL football franchise nearest the Nation’s Capitol) is celebrating Simon Tam’s (and Tam’s talented lawyers’) recent victory at the Supreme Court.

Excluded are the last two words as inapplicable, as I’ve never met Mr. Snyder, so I can’t say he’s my friend, and if even a small fraction of what Rolling Stone says about him is true, friendship seems unlikely, unless of course, he engages the services of an expert to rebrand the franchise (without the racial slur), something I asked for eight years ago.

Yet, “not so fast,” as a week ago, the government filed a brief with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, asking the Federal Circuit to affirm the TTAB’s refusal to register FUCT based on the scandalous portion of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, despite Tam.

The Department of Justice further contends that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Tam does not implicate the First Amendment in terms of scandalous matter, because unlike the stricken disparagement portion of 2(a), the remaining scandalous portion is viewpoint neutral.

To the extent the Justice Department prevails and the current bar on registration of “scandalous” matter survives First Amendment scrutiny with the Federal Circuit’s review in the Brunetti case, this could impact Daniel Snyder’s currently suspended R-Word trademark applications (here, here, and here), and the NFL’s suspended Boston Redskins application.

While the decades-old R-Word registrations challenged in Harjo and Blackhorse appear safe from cancellation given the ruling in Tam, what stops others from opposing registration of any future R-Word applications (or any of the currently suspended applications, if published) as containing scandalous matter in violation of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act?

If the scandalous bar to registration survives First Amendment scrutiny, opposers (unlike cancellation petitioners) would have the significant benefit of only needing to show (at the time of an opposition decision) that the current R-Word applications have scandalous matter.

It’s a question of the timing of proof necessary, in other words, no time machine would be required to determine how the relevant public perceived the R-Word marks back in the late 1960s when the first R-Word registration issued for the team; those would not be at issue.

It’s also a question of who comprises the relevant public. For disparaging matter, it was Native Americans. For scandalous matter, it would be the general public, although not necessarily a majority, but instead a “substantial composite of the general public.”

The Act’s present prohibition on the registration of scandalous matter reaches matter that is “shocking to the sense of propriety, offensive to the conscience or moral feelings or calling out for condemnation.” Wouldn’t unambiguous racial slurs qualify for this treatment?

Who’s ready to carry the next, but new flame, if needed, to oppose registration of any R-Word applications that publish for opposition, contending that a substantial composite of the general public finds the applied-for marks “shocking” to their sense of propriety and/or “offensive” to their conscience?

Even those who fought hard to undue the disparagement provision of Section 2(a) for Simon Tam, see Daniel Snyder’s team name in a very different light, and let’s also say, not a very sympathetic light. And, the general public today is not the public from 50 years ago.

Finally, given the vast public attention and support this issue has received over the last quarter century, it would be more than interesting to see what kind of a record could be developed on the scandalous ground for registration refusal, today, and not decades ago.

So, not so fast, let’s see what happens to the scandalous portion of Section 2(a) in Brunetti, before allowing Daniel Snyder to celebrate Tam too strongly, my friends.

UPDATE: The NFL’s Boston Redskins trademark application has been removed from suspension, reports Erik Pelton, so, who will oppose if published, and why hasn’t the USPTO issued a new refusal on scandalous grounds yet?

-Wes Anderson, Attorney

In the fall of 2012, an upstart freshman quarterback at Texas A&M named Johnny Manziel earned the moniker “Johnny Football” during an incredible season, leading the Aggies to a number of huge wins. Yet after three years, a Heisman Trophy, and a shaky rookie season in the NFL, Manziel has yet to secure a trademark registration for JOHNNY FOOTBALL. It’s a lesson for anyone who begins widespread use of a trademark: get an application filed ASAP.

A recent ESPN article discussed Manziel’s progress leading up to his sophomore year in pro football. Manziel laments his role as a “distraction” on the Cleveland Browns in 2014 and says he will no longer do his “money sign” gesture on the field. It also contained this intriguing note:

A company called Already LLC, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, recently transferred trademarks it owns — Johnny Baseball, Johnny Basketball, Johnny Sports, Johnny Golf and Johnny Soccer — to Manziel. Manziel is still in the process of securing Johnny Football.

This seemed hard to believe, at first. Even Wikipedia claims that the JOHNNY FOOTBALL nickname “is a registered trademark.” But for perhaps the first time in history, Wikipedia has this one wrong.

Manziel, filing jointly with an entity named “JMAN2 Enterprises, LLC,” applied to register the JOHNNY FOOTBALL trademark for a variety of apparel and entertainment services on February 2, 2013. The problem? An individual named Shannan Young had already applied to register the mark JUANITO FÚTBOL one month earlier on January 3, 2013. “Juanito,” of course, is the Spanish “diminutive” for Juan, which is roughly equivalent to “John” for an English-language name. In essence, Young beat Johnny Football to the PTO register for JOHNNY FOOTBALL.

The real kicker (no pun intended) is that old college rivalries appear to be behind the application. Take a look at Young’s specimen for the JUANITO FÚTBOL mark. Notice anything?

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 7.38.17 AM

That’s a logo for Texas Tech University on the product wrapped in the trademark. Texas Tech, of course, is an in-state (and former conference) rival of Texas A&M, Manziel’s alma mater. Also, it is unexplained why this was an acceptable specimen of use — the application identified “Hats; Jerseys; Sweatshirts; T-shirts” and the product shown appears to be some kind of cup. But the juanitofutbol.com site remains live and active, and continues to sell apparel products bearing the mark.

We recently noted the importance of policing use of trademarks and watching for potentially-infringing marks. The ongoing saga of Johnny Manziel emphasizes the importance of filing for trademark applications as soon as they are in widespread use — before a foe can swoop in and block registration of your mark.

As a result of Young’s quick actions, Manziel’s application was eventually suspended for nearly two years while Young’s senior application moved through to registration. Manziel’s application finally received an office action in January 2015 citing JUANITO FÚTBOL as grounds to refuse registration.

It appears that, eventually, Manziel was able to acquire Young’s registration – an assignment from Young to Manziel’s JMAN2 Enterprises entity was recorded earlier this month (though it appears to have actually taken place in April 2014). An office action response should make quick work to point this out and, finally, allow JOHNNY FOOTBALL to proceed to registration. But, perhaps, Manziel could have saved some of his calling-card money had he capitalized sooner on his nickname.


– Draeke Weseman, Weseman Law Office, PLLC

On Monday, the University of Oregon and The Ohio State University will play in college football’s first College Football Playoff championship game. DuetsBlog has previously covered the trademark issues surrounding BCS Properties’ attempt to register College Football Playoff as a trademark in connection with college football playoff games here. Even if College Football Playoff ultimately fails as a trademark, Monday’s championship game will be awash in trademarks and intellectual property. Consider this your DuetsBlog guide to the game.


We’ll start with Oregon, and begin with a little history. In 1859, Congress required Oregon to set aside land for a state university as a condition for admittance into the Union. Oregon chose land in Eugene, and, in the mid-1870s, began building what is today the University of Oregon®, or Oregon®, or just UO®. Although all eyes will be on the Oregon Ducks’® football team on Monday night, Eugene may be better known to many as Track Town USA® thanks to the success of Oregon’s track team under Bill Bowerman in the 1960s and 70s. During that time Bill Bowerman introduced jogging to the American public, coached the legend Steve Prefontaine, met Phil Knight, and started Nike, Inc.

Nike has maintained a strong relationship with Oregon ever since, hiring grad Tinker Hatfield in the 80s to design Air Jordan shoes (but not the ones blogged about here) and grad Dan Weiden’s agency Weiden-Kennedy, to coin the tag line “Just Do It” while developing TV ads like “Bo Knows” to sell newly invented cross-training shoes (also designed by Tinker Hatfield.) Today, Nike designs not only Oregon’s football uniforms, but also the special uniforms for all four teams that played in the College Football Playoffs, branding them from head to toe, and even hands:

For those interested, these uniform deals are influential, lucrative, and signed on a team-by-team basis.

Continue Reading Topics of Conversation for Your College Football Playoff Party

This Bo might not have won the Heisman Trophy, he might not have played in the NFL or MLB, he might not have enjoyed a lucrative Nike endorsement deal, and he might not have been named ESPN’s greatest athlete of all time, but this Bo — the defiant Vermonter, a/k/a Bo Muller-Moore, knows how to defend his “Eat More Kale” trademark and turn a trademark bully into fried chicken:

As you know, we have been following very closely — and very critically — for more than three years now, Chick-fil-A’s efforts to prevent registration of Bo’s EAT MORE KALE trademark, based on Chick-fil-A’s federally-registered rights in the EAT MOR CHIKIN fast-food slogan:

This dispute really became for me the poster-child example of trademark bullying, and keep in mind, I frequently report on media allegations of trademark bullying, but I have rarely agreed with the pejorative label, for a variety of reasons.

So, Bo, hearty congratulations to you!

What do you suppose was the deciding factor in Chick-fil-A chickening out and deciding not to pursue the filing of a formal Notice of Opposition with the USPTO? Was it, Governor Peter Shumlin’s support? Your able pro-bono legal team? Your successful Kickstarter campaign? Your deft use of the social media shame-wagon? The USPTO finally seeing clearly? Or perhaps the persistently persuasive DuetsBlog coverage?

Or, will we need to await completion of the promised documentary film, to know from Bo?

Either way, Chick-fil-A finally appears to have found a sense of humor, sending this email in response to a Huffington Post inquiry: “Cows love kale too!”

Let’s hope the cows have learned a lesson about straying past the trademark fence on the farm!


This past Sunday, the College Football Playoff Committee unveiled the four college football teams that will be participating the very first playoff in college football. The festivities begin Jan. 1, 2015, with Oregon battling Florida State in the Rose Bowl followed by Alabama and Ohio State duking it out in the Sugar Bowl. However, as the debate regarding who will win the college football playoff continues on television, in the comment sections of websites, and around the water cooler, a different type of college football debate has been ongoing at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Despite the players and teams being a mere three weeks from taking the field, the application to register the COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF mark is still on the bench. The application suited up back on March 28, 2013 but is still no closer to registration today. The application includes the following identification of services:

Entertainment services in the nature of television and radio sports programs featuring college football games, exhibitions and tournaments; entertainment services, namely, organizing and staging college football games, exhibitions and tournaments; and providing information, news and programming, scores, standings, statistics, and history, all in the field of the sport of football, via the internet

The examiner initially refused registration on the grounds that the mark was merely descriptive, but included a statement informing the applicant that the mark may be generic in connection with “organizing and staging college football games, exhibitions and tournaments.”

In response, BCS Properties (the applicant) claimed that COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF was not descriptive but instead a suggestive mark. It made the oft-asserted but rarely successful argument that a component of the mark has multiple meanings and therefore consumers will need to exercise imagination, perception, and thought to determine the exact nature of the services. The applicant conceded that the Examining Attorney’s definition of “college” as “an undergraduate division of a school or university” was a possible definition, but argued that “college” can also be defined in other ways, including (1) a body of clergy living together and supported by a foundation; (2) a building used for an educational or religious purpose; and (3) a preparatory high school. The implied argument is that consumers encountering the COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF mark won’t be certain whether these football tournaments involve university students, clergy roommates, buildings, or high school students. I don’t find this argument convincing, but maybe that’s just me.

The real emphasis of the response was on a claim of acquired distinctiveness. The applicant submitted numerous examples of news articles, websites, Facebook Groups, and evidence regarding viewership of the last BCS Championship Game (25.6 million viewers).

Overall, these are substantial numbers, but the Examining Attorney called an audible and denied the claim of acquired distinctiveness. Instead, the Examining Attorney issued a refusal on the basis that COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF is a generic term for “college football tournaments.” Determining whether a mark is generic involves a two-step inquiry: (1) what is the genus of the services at issue; and (2) does the relevant public understand the designation primarily to refer to that genus of goods and/or services?

In support of the refusal, the Examiner relied upon the following:

  • The identification of services includes “college football” as part of the services;
  • Numerous news articles describe the mark as identifying a playoff system for college football; and
  • An article where the director of the College Football Playoff is quoted as stating: “We decided to call the playoff what it is – the College Football Playoff.

Because advertising and sales cannot turn turn a generic term into a trademark, the claim of acquired distinctiveness is moot if the term is generic. In the alternative, the Examiner maintained the merely descriptive refusal, noting that given the highly descriptive nature of the mark, the evidentiary burden to prove acquired distinctive is much greater than it might be for less descriptive marks.

After failing to move the chains with its first response, the applicant filed its second response. It argued that the genus of goods is not “college football playoffs” but instead simply “football.” It also argued that the public does not use the COLLEGE FOOTBALL mark to refer to “entertainment services.” Notably, the applicant provided no evidence to support this claim. With regard to potential acquired distinctiveness, the applicant submitted evidence that its twitter account had over 30,000 followers, its Facebook page had more than 200,000 fans, and noted the numerous news articles referencing the upcoming college football playoff. Besides, the applicant argued, third-parties could use a number of other names for a “college football series,” such as “Collegiate Football Tournament,” “College Football Showdown,” [and] “University Football Series.”

It was a good effort, but ultimately unsuccessful as the Examiner issued a final refusal on August 26, 2014. The examiner noted again that the phrase “college football” is in the identification of services and therefore the proper genus is not simply “football.” The Examiner also noted that the evidence supplied by the applicant makes clear that its mark will be used to identify “those college football games that come after the end of the regular scheduled season that will be used to determine the college football champion.” The examiner also rejected the evidence of acquired distinctiveness, stating that it merely showed that college football itself was popular, not that the mark had obtained acquired distinctiveness.

BCS Properties will have another shot at filing a response to try to change the examiner’s mind. Unfortunately though, the application may have been doomed as soon as the name was chosen. It seems like ages ago, but after the announcement of the new name, there were laughs had as to the less-than-creative name (for example, here, here, and here). Most of the chuckling was that the BCS paid a marketing firm to come up with the name (Premier Sports Management, for the curious). For what it’s worth, I don’t blame the marketing firm. As some of the articles point out, after the BCS era, the goal may have been to simply find a name that the public couldn’t trash.

But even though the hurdle was going to be high, the applicant got off to a false start by including the phrase “college football” in the actual identification of services. The fact that the applicant’s director was quoted as stating that the College Football Playoff name was chosen “because that’s what it is” certainly doesn’t help either.

Yet it isn’t a lost cause. These types of office actions require thoughtful and well-planned arguments, and that planning begins with the application (i.e., not digging yourself a hole). Trademark examination is a unique situation as it isn’t adversarial in the same sense of a lawsuit. Instead, the examiner is both the adversary and the judge. In light of this, organization and word choice can make or break a response, in part because trademark law requires a highly subjective analysis. It isn’t about “tricking” an examiner, it’s about defining and framing the legal inquiries and burdens in a way that makes sense with your particular facts.

The applicant has until February 6, 2015 to respond to the final office action. This gives the applicant additional time to gather evidence regarding public understanding and use of the claimed COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF mark. However, I’ve got a feeling that even if BCS is unsuccessful at changing the examiner’s mind, the game will extend into overtime at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

In case you were unaware, the (Men’s) World Cup happened over the last two months and is now over (the Women’s World Cup is next year, in Canada). I Believe that if you followed Team USA at all, you probably heard the infectious chant of I —— I BELIEVE ——- I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE……

Okay, so we didn’t win. But we never specified WHEN we believed we were going to win (“I believe that we will win in two thousand and eighteen!” just wasn’t as catchy). In the end, Germany gets to put another star on their Jersey. Big whoop, we have 50 on our flag.

As you might imagine, the “I Believe” chant did not originate with the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team a mere 2 months ago and virally spread across the country like a picture of dead triceratops. In fact, students at San Diego State University have been using the chant in connection with their sports teams since 2010 and, in fact, had applied to register the phrase I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office back in 2011. After an interesting prosecution history involving two Petitions to Revive and a few refusals to register the mark, the application is set to publish this month.

All well and good, except that Utah State has been using the chant and mark since 2006 and is considering its options for objecting. So now we have two schools and the US National Team with potential rights to “The Coolest Chant in the Country,” at least, ESPN Believes so. Oh, and if you visit that link, you’ll note that the Washington Post reports that the chant originated at a Navy football game long before either SDSU, Utah State, or the Men’s National Team.  ESPN did a short video segment on the chant and interviewed a Navy Cheerleader who was the first to publicly perform the chant at a game in 1999:

I’m not one to question the journalistic expertise of ESPN, so I Believe that this is an accurate historical account. And in any event, if there are other schools or sports teams that used the chant before or after, I Believe it only adds further layers to the potential ownership claims.

The Trademark Office initially refused registration on the grounds that the phrase failed to function as a trademark, but SDSU was able to overcome the refusal. I think the Trademark Office was right the first time. No, I believe that they were right. I Believe That They Were Right! I BELIEVE THAT THEY WERE RIGHT! I BELIEVE THAT —

As many have written about before me, the NFL is quite protective of its rights in the SUPER BOWL trademark, so much so that some think it has earned the pejorative “trademark bully” label, so I spilled a little digital ink on the topic last year:

This year, given the brotherly Harbaugh coaching match-up for the Big Game — depicted below (but, not this Big Game), the NFL has widened its SUPER BOWL trademark enforcement net even more to thwart another’s trademark ownership of the coined term HARBOWL:

Associated Press via Yahoo! Sports

It is not clear to me who is responsible for coining the term HARBOWL (perhaps a sports writer in 2012), but there is no question that a man from Indiana named Roy Fox was the first to file a federal intent-to-use trademark application for HARBOWL, in fact, he filed it about a year ago on February 21, 2012:

Right before the conference championship games last year, I thought to myself, ‘Can you imagine if these guys played each other?’” Fox told ESPN.com. “If Pat Riley would go through the trouble of trademarking three-peat, why shouldn’t I try this?

Apparently Legal Zoom didn’t whisper this answer into Mr. Fox’s ear: “Because the NFL will get in your way!” Sure enough, the NFL caught wind and filed extensions of time to oppose registration of the HARBOWL mark, and before needing to formally oppose, NFL attorneys apparently convinced Mr. Fox to expressly abandon the application (without any compensation or reimbursement), despite the reported view that this would be a rather weak trademark opposition. It also has been reported that counsel for the NFL wrote to Mr. Fox:

“If you are still interested in resolving this matter amicably and abandoning your trademark application, please contact me as soon as possible,” NFL Assistant Counsel . . . wrote to Mr. Fox in October. She warned that otherwise, the NFL “will be forced to file an opposition proceeding and to seek the recoupment of our costs from you.”

To the extent, this is an accurate quote from counsel for the NFL, exactly how did the NFL plan to recoup its costs in filing and pursuing an opposition when it is black letter law that monetary relief is not available in TTAB opposition proceedings? This was clearly an empty threat. Nevertheless, Mr. Fox complied and formally abandoned the applications. So, might this be the end of the HARBOWL trademark story?

Apparently not, just days ago, another pair of entrepreneurs lined up for their own personal dance with the NFL: (1) Tom Cohen, from  Rockville, Maryland, who filed his HARBOWL intent-to-use trademark application on January 20, 2013, and (2) Andrew Shulstad, from Charlotte, North Carolina, who filed his application a day later. Interestingly, the guy who founded Trademarkia is representing the fellow from North Carolina.

Notably, neither the NFL nor the Harbaugh coaches have sought to register HARBOWL as a trademark — will anyone care a year from now? Anyone predicting HARBOWL II?

Before I launch into this post, I must provide the disclaimer that I am not a Tweeter and I do not regularly use Twitter.  That being said, here we go.

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then Twitter is quickly becoming sycophancy central. “Fake” Twitter accounts abound throughout the Twitter-verse and, frankly, I find this accounts to be fascinating case studies where all sorts of legal rights might potentially collide. 

Sitting down and just brainstorming for a minute, it occurs to me that fake Twitter accounts could potentially implicate a broad range of legal issues such as trademark rights, rights to publicity, privacy rights, defamation, and fair use. 

To my knowledge, the majority of fake Twitter accounts are comical and parodic in nature, or at least attempt to be. Given this, it would appear that they would likely be protected by fair use. For some entertaining examples, see PC World’s 15 Funniest Fake Twitter Accounts. ESPN even took the time to document some of its favorites. However, fair use is often a tricky line to draw.

To date, I believe the most visible lawsuits relating to Twitter have fallen more into the category of defamation claims arising from insulting posts. (See here.) However, as more Tweeters take on alternate identities and use those identities as a platform for their own content, I can see trademark owners, copyright owners, and high-publicity figures taking a closer look at potential infringements arising from these fake accounts.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think Twitter is becoming an interesting Petri dish for legal experiment, and I’m curious as to how that experiment might turn out. Does anyone have their own thoughts on potential results?

–Dan Kelly, Attorney

It has been some time since we have visited AlphaWatch, and today we turn our attention to an ad I spied on ESPN’s website this week:

This takes me back to law school and a Latin phrase common in legal parlance, res ipsa loquitur, which is commonly translated, “the thing speaks for itself.”  The legal principle arises in negligence cases, for instance, when a surgeon leaves a sponge or other tool inside of a patient after a surgery.  That sort of thing does not happen without someone having dropped the ball.  Some overzealous lawyers, though, stretch the phrase res ipsa loquitur beyond its proper meaning, prompting others to expand, “res ipsa loquitur, sed quid in infernos dicet?”  (“The thing speaks for itself, but what in the hell is it saying?”)

So, ESPN is now getting aboard the bandwagon that has not worked very well for Gatorade, and even has Gatorade aboard as a “founding partner.”  (Could be a case of the blind leading the blind.)  Standing alone, given the willowy curves of the W, I first thought that this might have been a roll-out for ESPN W for “women,” but then I spied this banner ad:

Wait a minute.  ESPN “Within”?  Maybe an amateur site?  Don’t know.  At this point, I’ve had to think waaay too much for being on the ESPN site, and I’m off clicking somewhere else.  They had about 3-5 seconds to hook me, and I just ended up confused.  (And it looks like my initial surmise was correct, but now I don’t get “because we all have an athlete within.”  Now I’m really confused.)

This is the problem with single-letter branding.  One letter says a lot, but what in the hell is it saying?