The Big Game? What are they getting at? The World Cup?

The Big Game? What are they getting at? The World Cup?

This weekend, that big football event we’ve come to call the Super Bowl occurs. But this time of year we get to enjoy the timidity of advertisers, who tremble at the thought of using the “SB” term itself.

As a result, we are inundated with inane ads that trumpet “The Big Game” or some permutation of that milquetoast label.

The Super Bowl organizers and their attorneys guard that name carefully, as they should. But when the use is entirely peripheral to the game, and when advertisers mention the game not to confuse consumers but to offer products and services that would improve the game experience, they believe they cannot utter “Super Bowl”? Gimme a break!

That kind of circumscribed thinking made me chuckle as I gazed at the accumulation of ads that came in this week’s Arizona Republic. In this case, it was supermarkets who studiously avoided the term. Bizarro world.

Extending that “thinking,” I guess we should say that “This year’s Big Game is between a team from Denver and another from Seattle.” Wary of uttering “Seahawks” or “Broncos,” that’s all we should say.

The disappearing Super Bowl, via the timidity of advertisers.

The disappearing Super Bowl, via the timidity of advertisers.

To add a little legal thinking to my irritation, turn to this story echoing how ridiculous the fear is.

Here, the author quotes another on the harm we do to fair-use concepts when we surrender those rights without true understanding:

“In their recent book Reclaiming Fair Use, Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi warn that when we refrain from exercising our fair use rights, and act as if those rights do not exist, we help create a culture in which fair use loses ground to overly aggressive copyright enforcement. The same is true in the trademark realm. We can only hope that when the next Superbowl rolls around, the Times and its brethren, and even the HDTV sellers, will have shed their timidity.”

A hat tip to the eagle-eyed Kathy Nakagawa who spotted this wonderful issue that intersects sports and intellectual property.