If the Seattle Seahawks are known for their aggressive offensive line, their players are nothing when compared to the aggression of their lawyers. Outdoing even the brutish NFL lawyers who claim copyright to terms like “Super Bowl,” the team has filed two dozen trademark applications in a little over a year to claim ownership to such terms as “boom” and “Go Hawks.” The team is also claiming ownership to the number 12 in a font like the one used by the team. It had to settle a prior lawsuit over its use of “The 12th Man” phrase (referring to the fans) — a phrase claimed by Texas A & M where it was forced to pay a licensing fee for the limited use of this common term. Now it is trying to the do the same in claiming parts of the English language as owned by the team (I am waiting for the Patriots to trademark “Deflate-gate”). It is all perfectly bizarre but Congress has done little to stop the frenzy to claim common terms and phrases. Too bad there is not anyone willing to throw a flag for encroachment to protect citizens.
I have long been a critic of growing copyright and trademark claims over things occurring in public or common phrases or terms. (For a prior column, click here). We have often discussed the abusive expansion of copyright and trademark laws. This includes common phrases, symbols, and images being claimed as private property. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). This included recently a New York artist claiming that he holds the trademark to symbol π.
The team has been fighting people who use the number 12. In the meantime, they crushed one of its own former players — kicker Norm Johnson and his son, Jordan Johnson — after they tried to trademark “12 Nation.”
There should be no claim to these terms and phrases, but Congress has done little as companies carve up the English language like some linguistic land rush. Ironically, the team’s greatest opposition is not coming from Congress — or logic — but other teams. While the Seahawks want to own “Go Hawks, the Chicago Blackhawks are not amused.
If you really want to see a scrum of offensive players, just try using “The 12 Man’s Super Bowl Boom Boom.” You will be virtually crushed by a sea of pin-stripped suits and wingtips.
Source: USA Today