Competing Before the PTO: Four Things a Professional Athlete Should Consider When Seeking a Federal Trademark Registration

Originally published in Sports Litigation Alert, Volume 9, Issue 15, August 24, 2012

Today’s athletes have become increasingly proactive and savvy about ways in which they can and should protect their trademarks. As an example, shortly after former University of North Carolina basketball star Harrison Barnes became the seventh pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, he stated that he had already given tremendous thought to what his “brand” would be and even had an artist friend design his logo. As it turns out, Barnes had even gone so far as to file a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) for the word mark THE BLACK FALCON – his nickname at UNC – on August 19, 2011, months before his college career was over and almost a full year before he was selected to play in the NBA.

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