Why can't you call it the Super Bowl?

John Moore

The NFL's lawyers have a stack of cease and desist letters ready to go. Just try them. They'd love it.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Playoff Coverage

You've probably heard a bunch of local tire shops, strip clubs, and stereo stores promoting half-assed sales this weekend by alluding to some sort of championship football game, but not actually coming out and saying "The Super Bowl."

I, for one, am in favor of a strip club exemption for all copyright infringements as a blanket provision, but that's neither here nor there. The fact is, most companies are not allowed to use the phrases "Super Bowl" or "Super Sunday," both of which have been copyrighted by the NFL.

Maybe you've seen Stephen Colbert's "Superb Owl" coverage, where he moves one letter in the name and tosses in some Owl facts along with his football analysis to get around the NFL's team of lawyers. Colbert should be allowed to use the term "Super Bowl" under fair use considering his show's satirical nature, but Viacom has asked him to refrain from saying it because the NFL is so aggressively litigious about protecting its trademark that it has companies running scared, policing themselves.

The NFL's lawyers have gone after big and small targets alike (from The Motley Fool):

A classic example occurred in 2007 leading up to Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears when the NFL sent a cease and desist letter to an Indiana church group that had advertised its party with an intent to charge admission. The letter led to several other church groups around the country to stop similar activities, the exact effect the NFL was seeking.

Have you ever kicked the hornet nest and accused Texas A&M fans of being ridiculous cat-milking, creek-dwelling weirdos when they try to sue everyone under the sun who uses the phrase "12th Man"? It's because of a great American law that puts an organization in jeopardy of losing their trademark if they DON'T threaten to sue someone for trademark infringement. Therefore, anytime a parent with a homemade "12th Man" t-shirt cuts a wet fart within two counties of an Aggie parent at a Pop Warner football game, they send a cease and desist letter. Why it's so important to A&M to have that phrase trademarked is another story entirely.

The NFL is the hottest escort in the world, and you have to pay up to be able to tell people that you're her official boyfriend. Budweiser ponied up $1.2 billion dollars to be her official beer sponsor instead of Miller Lite. No, that's really how much money AB InBev is paying to put The Shield in their packaging, inflatable store displays, and your mind. There's no chance that sponsorship would be worth anything close to that amount if the NFL didn't promise its corporate partners to aggressively pursue any and all violators.

Of course, there is no "official news coverage of the NFL" despite what the NFL Network tries to present, so places like SB Nation and ESPN get to say "Super Bowl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl" and The Sharper Image doesn't.

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