Are NFL team colors protected by trademark

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by sluman, Nov 6, 2009.

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  1. sluman

    sluman Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My current business offers products to NFL fans via my website. I want to customize them to match NFL team colors.

    Obviously, I cannot advertise my product is a Minnesota Vikings widget, for example, that comes in purple and yellow, without agreement from the NFL and/or the Minnesota Vikings. At least I don't think I could.

    But could I direct customers to select their colors based on the city or state of each NFL team? So if you select Green Bay, my product would come to you in green and yellow. And if you selected San Francisco, it would come in red and gold.

    I want to have an interactive map for customers to select their team without actually saying Packers or Bears or Colts. If I do this, do I run the risk of getting sued by the NFL for trademark enfringement since the colors are obviously associated with the various teams? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. jharris352

    jharris352 New Member

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    So you want to know if you can sell a Greenbay jersey as long as it doesn't have Greenbay on it? No you can't. You are advertising: "I want to customize them to match NFL team colors." In other words you want your products to have the "look and feel" of each team. You want them to be associated with the "team from each city." That is trademark infraction all day. The teams and the NFL will hound you off the net. Even if they are wrong they can afford to bankrupt you. And they won't be wrong.

    You are intentionally trying to infringe on their trademark without infringing on their trade mark. That can't be done. Sorry.
     
  3. sluman

    sluman Law Topic Starter New Member

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    NFL colors...clarification

    Thanks for the response. Let me clarify one point.

    Rather than jerseys, let's say it is coffee mugs. I want to advertise "get customized coffee mugs in your team colors..." without saying the actual name of the team. The customer would select the colors by clicking on "Green Bay" and not "Green Bay Packers" or even "Packers". The mug would say Bill Jones and simply be in green and yellow.

    No mention would ever be made of the NFL team name or even the NFL. Surely I could execute this concept without tying the colors to a city by asking the customer to simply select green and yellow to accomplish the same thing, but that really does not have the same appeal from a marketing standpoint.

    Couldn't you argue that it is simply a mug that is color coordinated to Green Bay and not the Green Bay Packers? Granted, all of the colors would coincide with the 32 NFL teams, but there would be no logos or team names. It is simply allowing people to buy a mug that is in the colors of their choice.

    Thanks for your advice.
     
  4. jharris352

    jharris352 New Member

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    But listen to what you are saying:

    Even in your question you make mention of the TEAM COLORS. You are going to get hammered by the NFL.
     
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  5. Michael M. Wechsler

    Michael M. Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    I disagree. I don't think anyone can sue you for creating a mug with colors that resemble your team. What happens if you create a red, white and blue mug? You can't say that it's the same colors as your favorite team? What if your favorite team is black and silver?

    What I would say is that you need to make sure that people know you are not affiliated with the NFL, ensuring there is no "likelihood of confusion" that the products they are buying comes directly from the NFL.

    With regard to color matching, this might be different if you used 8 colors and each one of an exact hexadecimal code that might mean something specific. Generic colors like this - I'd find it hard to believe there could be a successful lawsuit, provided the above. I can't say there might not be a letter from the NFL but there is nothing they can do about it from my perspective.
     
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  6. hykekixi

    hykekixi New Member

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    Hello:

    I am considering using the NFL color scheme also. So how much would the NFL charge to use it on something take may or may not sell? Is their a guideline to how much it would cost flat percent? Who would I contact to find that out.
    Thanks
     
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