WHO. WHO. WHO … OWNS “SUPERB OWL?”
Superb Owl is again making the headlines. Stephen Colbert popularized the phrase last year as a way of covering Super Bowl XLVIII on his show “The Colbert Report” while avoiding action by the NFL, an organization known for its aggressive protection of its trademark rights.
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More recently, an Arizona-based non-profit group called The Night Run, which claims to have been using the phrase since 2012 in connection with running events with night owl themes, including its SUPERB OWL SHUFFLE 5K, has attempted to federally register SUPERB OWL as a trademark. It also owns the domain name www.superbowlshuffle.org and the Facebook moniker “Superb Owl Shuffle.”
The registration attempt, and the Trademark Office’s preliminary approval of the registration, has turned the head of the NFL nearly 360 degrees. With its talons set, the NFL swooped down and opposed the published US trademark application for SUPERB OWL earlier this month.
While The Night Run has about one month to respond, it is worth noting that another party already owns a US trademark registration for SUPERB OWL. It appears that a lawyer in New York federally registered the mark in connection with a column in online newsletters for promoting goods and services on entrepreneurs. However, it also appears that the NFL did not give enough of a hoot to formally challenge that registration.
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