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With single coin toss, one of the Nation’s top-celebrated sporting championships officially is underway. While a lot of us enjoy watching one man throw the pigskin to another, we all can admit that there is a consolation prize that we all tend to enjoy- the commercials! While these commercials can evoke a variety of emotions, from laughing to crying, they have to plan these to avoid getting into legal trouble with the NFL. So what are some of the biggest issues that come with the league’s “big game”? According to Broadcast Law Blog, it’s Trademarks and Copyright issues.
The first issue is that both “Super Bowl” and “March Madness” are trademarked terms. Violations of either of trademarks have been prosecuted in the past by both of these leagues.
Ever wonder why very few commercials leading up to the Super Bowl rarely use the actual title? It’s to avoid using the trademarked phrase. You can use the trademarked phrases when using them in a newsworthy way because we have a right in the First Amendment that allows us to report and talk about such events.
The Copyright issues that come into play are involved when showing the Super Bowl. One is infringing on Copyrights when they are showing a program where a fee is charged to view it or at a business that exceeds a certain size limitation. The Copyright Act does exempt certain small establishments from the obligations to obtain public performance licenses, however these small businesses must meet a certain strict criteria:
- No admission charge
- Only permitted to display over-the-air TV
- A bar or restaurant must be under 3750 square feet of space,
- Less than four total TVs with no more than one per room and none bigger than 55 diagonal inches
If the businesses don’t meet the requirement they need to buy a commercial license in order to show the Super Bowl in their business. So if you want to avoid running into any potential trouble, avoid holding a special viewing party with numerous TV’s and an admission charge.