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Throwing the Yellow Flag on Sports Team’s Branding Use

Your football team is seeded #1 in the playoff (Go Ravens!). Do not get penalized if you want to use the team logo or name – or the star quarterback’s name or likeness – 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 the 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 non-playoff 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” is 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 last year and will be repeated each year when the Ravens are in the playoffs.

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