Time to Trademark: Athletes Capitalize on Phrases, Nicknames

Beast Mode Apparel Hat

Beast Mode Apparel Hat

By: Blaydes Moore* | Staff Writer

“I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”  This statement from Marshawn Lynch, aka “Beast Mode,” dominated the weekly ESPN news cycle leading up to the Super Bowl.  Mr. Lynch responded to all twenty-nine questions posed to him at Super Bowl Media Day with these eight words.  The NFL saw this as an improvement over last year when he did not even attend the event.  The Pro-Bowl running back from Seattle, famous for his attachment to Skittles, won even more fans by refusing to engage in the hoopla surrounding arguable the biggest event in sports.

To capitalize, Mr. Lynch is trademarking the phrase.  This is only the latest play in a series of moves designed to capitalize on the grassroots fame Mr. Lynch has cultivated as a phenomenally successful running back in the NFL.  He produces his own line of clothing – “Beast Mode, the official brand of Marshawn Lynch” – and has promoted it through the outlets available to him as a sports superstar.  The coverage generated from his oft-repeated quote at Super Bowl Media Day generated exposure amounting to an estimated equivalent of $3,000,000 in paid advertising.  “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” will join Mr. Lynch’s stable of trademarked phrases, which also include “About that action BOSS,” “power pellets,” and of course, “Beast Mode.”

Florida State University, college home of “Famous Jameis.”

Florida State University, college home of “Famous Jameis.”

But Mr. Lynch isn’t the only one trademarking their claims to fame these days.  Florida State University’s divisive phenom is also trademarking a phrase that has accompanied his rise to stardom.  “Famous Jameis” Winston seeks to own that nickname.  The phrase has seen a huge leap in popularity along with the quarterback despite his troubles with the authorities.  Jameis Winston is expected to be the first overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

“Johnny Football” might have the most impressive portfolio of trademarks out of the lot.  He recently filed for his tenth trademark: “Johnny Cleveland.”  Despite battling some issues, Johnny is steadily growing the phrases he intends to sell on clothing and other items.  So far his list includes “Johnny Football,” “JMAN2,” “JFF,” and “The House that Johnny Built.”

With social media, built-in advertising like Super Bowl media day, and the ever-growing number of endorsed advertisements, it is likely more and more sports celebrities will seek to capitalize on their fame.

*Blaydes Moore is a second year law student at Wake Forest University School of Law.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Clemson University.  He is an avid college football fan, although he owns no products featuring any of the above trademarks.