Small Firms Find Ways Around Super Bowl Trademarks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Entrepreneur Paul King, CEO of Hercules Networks and the creator of the goCharge automated mobile-device charger, is using his product's participation in the Super Bowl to spread the word about his growing business.

King, who launched the product in 2008, says he will be sending an email blast to clients and prospective clients noting the inclusion of a kiosk within AT&T's (Stock Quote: T) designated area at the Bowl.

"We are coming up with a flier that turns goCharge into a cartoon character and it says 'goCharge is at the Super Bowl making sure you're charged up during the Big Game'," King wrote in an e-mail to TheStreet.

Super Bowl promotion action, King's flier hints at a way not to run afoul of National Football League lawyers on the lookout for trademark infringement of one of the most well-known events in the U.S.

"The Super Bowl is obviously a well-known trademark, and the NFL is rather aggressive in enforcing it with businesses large and small, local or national. It is a very important asset to them," says attorney Erik Pelton, who has helped many small-business owners with trademark disputes. While most trademark enforcement takes place near the game itself, the NFL has "an army of lawyers and has invested a lot of money in obtaining exclusive licenses for all types of products and services. And therefore they invest a lot of money in guarding those trademarks."

At the bottom of the NFL website is a disclaimer that the acronym and shield design are "registered trademarks of the National Football League. The team names, logos and uniform designs are registered trademarks of the teams indicated." (Business owners can search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website to find further trademarks.)

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