We have previously discussed how Congress and the White House have yielded to demand for increasing copyright and trademark restrictions, including criminal prosecutions of ordinary citizens. One of my longest complaints is how people and businesses now claim ownership of common symbols and phrases. (here and here). This week we have two parties in a fight to claim trademark over a common expression. Roy Fox of Pendleton, Indiana secured a copyright to the term “Harbowl” last year to make money off of a Superbowl with the Baltimore Ravens under coach John Harbaugh and San Francisco 49ers under coach Jim Harbaugh. He was then muscled out of his trademark by NFL lawyers claiming to own the term “Superbowl.”
We have previously discussed the ludicrous ability of the NFL to claim ownership of the term “Superbowl” but an army of NFL lawyers continue to threaten and sue people over the term. This is a case which shows how ridiculous the situation has become in the United States. The NFL was able to claim that even the use of the word “Bowl” was an infringement by a man who himself was claiming ownership of what is a common quip.
Fox caved after the NFL threatened to take him to court. There is no good party in this fight. The question is how long it will take to take the American people to demand action and bar such claims. The Obama Administration has long been criticized for being in the pocket of “copyright hawks” and Congress has shown a consistent willingness to give lobbyists anything that they want in this area. The result is that we are stifling creativity and criminalizing everyday day.
I am waiting for the Catholic Church to claim ownership of terms like the “Hail Mary pass.”