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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the protectability and registration of athletes’ names, nicknames, and catchphrases as trademarks under federal law. More and more athletes are seeking to register their names, nicknames, catchphrases, and fan slogans as federal trademarks in an attempt to monetize their fame and cultural capital. However, their goals in filing those applications are not often in accord with the traditional goals of trademark law. After providing an overview on trademark use and registration, the chapter discusses some of the limitations for trademark protection, including those based on distinctiveness, false association, and confusion. It also explains how trademark doctrines affect athletes’ ability to protect certain words or phrases as trademarks. Finally, it considers how the general goals of trademark law correspond to an athlete’s desire to protect words and phrases associated with him or her and prevent others from appropriating them.

Keywords: athletes, names, nicknames, catchphrases, trademarks, trademark law, trademark use, trademark registration, trademark protection, false association

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