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Don’t Get Penalized for Misusing Sports Teams’ Logos and Players’ Likenesses

Your football team is in the playoffs for the third consecutive year and peaking at just the right time (Go Ravens!). Do not get penalized if you want to use the team logo or name — or the name or likeness of the star quarterback, hot rookie running back or reliable kicker — on your website, social media or marketing materials. Stay onside when creating T-shirts or other memorabilia with the team name, logo and colors. Trademark law prohibits use of a team’s logo or other trademarks that will confuse consumers into believing there is some affiliation, connection, association, sponsorship or approval between the team and you. (The same rules apply to nonplayoff contenders or businesses in general.) Acceptable uses are — for a Ravens fan — using a purple font or purple background or saying “Go Ravens” in your materials. Using words, such as “Flock” or “Nevermore,” are also defensible. However, using the team’s logo or creating a context that implies official sponsorship or connection with the team could subject you to penalties. Be careful: At this time of year, the NFL is policing the marketplace more rigorously. This repeats advice given this time the past two years and will be repeated each year when the Ravens are in the playoffs.

 

Ned T. Himmelrich
410-576-4171 • nhimmelrich@gfrlaw.com