Legal Blog

Can Your Trademarks Come Out and Play?

Trademarks at the NFL’s Biggest Game

The recent Super Bowl was a hard-fought, nail-biter of a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. Ultimately, the Chiefs came out on top in dramatic fashion. For the National Football League and its sponsors, their brands were on prominent display and widely celebrated (or derided) for the advertisements featuring them. Here is a look at some of the trademarks featured in the big game.


NFL Shield Logo Black & White

Image courtesy of U.S. Trademark Office (Reg. No. 3544602)

Vince Lombardi Trophy Illustration

Image courtesy of U.S. Trademark Office (Reg. No. 0983550)

National Football League Trademarks

Unsurprisingly, the game featured many of the NFL’s trademarks. Of course, the NFL’s shield logo (Reg. No. 3544602) appeared mid-field. The Super Bowl logo itself, which appeared on the field, is also a trademark, although it is not the subject of a trademark application.

At this point, almost everyone knows that SUPER BOWL itself is a trademark of the NFL (Reg. Nos. 3343714 and 0846056). That is why parties who do not sponsor the game refer to it as the big game (interestingly, when the NFL figured this out, it tried to register THE BIG GAME as a trademark—the NFL eventually withdrew the application after more than twenty different parties threatened to oppose it). The NFL also has trademark registrations for SUPER SUNDAY (Reg. No. 1406345) and GAMEDAY (Reg. No. 1322099).

Included among the approximately 100 registered marks the NFL owns are two that made prominent appearances during the game, and particularly at the end of the game: VINCE LOMBARDI TROPHY (Reg. No. 0983550) and the champion’s trophy itself (Reg. No. 1226261).


Kansas City Chiefs Uniform Illustration

Image courtesy of U.S. Trademark Office (Reg. Nos. 1224590 and 1285595 )

Kansas City Chiefs Wolf Mascot Illustration

Image courtesy of U.S. Trademark Office (Reg. No. 1857958)

Kansas City Chiefs Trademarks

The Chiefs own a number of trademarks. Their uniforms are registered trademarks (Reg. Nos. 1224590 and 1285595) for use in connection with entertainment services in the form of professional football games and exhibitions.

The Chiefs also own registrations for ARROWHEAD (the name of their home stadium) (Reg. Nos. 3551884 and 3551885); RED COATERS (a community-service organization comprised of those who are passionate about their Kansas City Chiefs and have the opportunity to give back to the community) (Reg. No. 468139) and the look of K.C. Wolf (Reg. No. 1857958), who was on the sidelines during the game.

It appears that Patrick Mahomes does not have a trademark registration for his name. Travis Kelce does not yet have a trademark registration for his name, but he filed an application in November (Serial No. 98246233).



San Francisco 49ers Uniform Illustration

Image courtesy of U.S. Trademark Office (Reg. Nos. 1238823 and 1238824)

San Francisco 49ers Trademarks

Like the Chiefs, the 49ers have trademark registrations for their uniforms (Reg. Nos. 1238823 and 1238824).

The 49ers have a trademark registration for the name of their mascot, SOURDOUGH SAM (Reg. No. 4758761), but not for the appearance of their mascot (Sourdough Sam took the field with the rest of the 49ers).

GOLD RUSH (Reg. No. 4775440) is another 49ers-owned trademark, covering entertainment services in the form of precision dance and cheerleading squad performing at professional football games and exhibitions. Other 49er’s trademarks include FAITHFUL TO THE BAY (Reg. No. 6623361), NINERS (Reg. No. 1318640), and HELLA FAITHFUL (Reg. No. 7176513).

49ers quarterback Brock Purdy has not registered his name as a trademark, but he is in good company — 49ers legends Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Jerry Rice have not registered their names, either.



In some years, the commercials are better than the games. This year, the game was a good one, and some of the commercials were memorable. All of the commercials, though, featured trademarks—from PARAMOUT+ (Reg. Nos. 7270066 and 6714143) to STATE FARM (Reg. Nos. 5271354, 4211626 and others) to NERDS (Reg. Nos. 2209131, 6570731 and others) and M&M’S (Reg. Nos. 1774366, 0396914 and others). With the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl commercial at a cost of $7 million (or $233,333 per second), these ads better promote their brands and be so memorable that their brands stick out to consumers. With all the trademarks on and around the field (in the stands, in the stadium, and elsewhere), this is where the real action is during the game. These ads can make a brand—think about Apple’s famous 1984 commercial, a forty-year-old commercial still discussed today.

One commercial in particular had me wondering about an infringement claim. Pfizer’s commercial was a celebration of scientific history and touched on Pfizer’s role in that history. The ad featured paintings, statues, and photos of people such as Isaac Newton, Galileo, and Albert Einstein singing along to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” Presumably, Pfizer obtained a license to use Queen’s recording of its song. Did Pfizer secure a license to feature Albert Einstein in the ad? The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which owns the rights to Einstein’s name and likeness and runs a website through which they can be licensed, presumably granted Pfizer a license. If not, well, Hebrew University is diligent about pursuing infringers.

The Super Bowl demonstrates just how embedded into everyday life trademarks are, how important they are to brands, and how they are not limited to words and logos. If you want to talk about your trademarks (every business has at least one) and how to make sure that they are ready for their moment at the fifty-yard line, please reach out to me.


Professional headshot of Attorney Marc | 347.589.8533

Marc P. Misthal is a principal attorney in the firm’s Intellectual Property practice group. With a wide range of clients worldwide, Marc provides counsel to businesses spanning diverse industries, including the fashion, apparel, computer technology, hospitality, restaurant, entertainment, jewelry, luxury goods, home goods, furniture, cosmetics, retail and consumer goods industries.

As part of his practice, Marc has represented clients in federal courts around the country, defending and prosecuting claims of trademark, trade dress, and copyright infringement and, when necessary, obtaining injunctive relief. He has also represented clients in Opposition and Cancellation proceedings before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and in proceedings under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).