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Legal Issues

Reminder - Super Bowl Advertising and Use of the Word "Super Bowl" - January 14, 2013

With the "Super Bowl" coming up in February, it's time for a reminder that the term "Super Bowl" is a trademark owned by the NFL and licensed to advertisers and the network that carries the game.  

Under federal trademark law, the NFL retains the exclusive right to control marketing of the Super Bowl and its associated trademarks,  including the phrases "Super Bowl," "Super Sunday," "National Football  League," "NFL," and the NFL shield and Super Bowl logos. The NFL and the individual teams also own federally registered trademarks for the team names, nicknames, and uniform and helmet designs.  The NFL also owns the trademarks for "National Football Conference," "American  Football Conference," "NFC," and "AFC." 

Without permission from the NFL, a broadcaster, commercial advertiser, or client cannot legally say any of these protected words or use their protected logos in their marketing or promotions.

To be clear, It is acceptable to use the term "Super Bowl" ONLY in a bonafide news story or advertisement for the game OR an advertiser who is licensed to use the term in their ads.  Unless you are using the term “Super Bowl" in an officially licensed ad, you CAN ONLY USE terms like  "The Big Game" or "The Professional Football  Championship Game this Sunday." 
What is permissible in commercial advertisements? "The Big Game" is okay. As well as, "The Professional Football Championship Game this Sunday, February 5th" or similar references are alright.  It is also permissible to mention the names of the cities/areas involved, but NOT the team names.  Also, you can make fun of the fact that you can't say certain phrases by beeping them out.  Again, in a bonafide news or bonefide sports story the team names, the trademarked names including the term "Super Bowl" are all acceptable.