The owl of the Superb Owl Night Run with co-organizers Tricia Schafer (left) and Johnny Lookabaugh (right).

The owl of the Superb Owl Night Run with co-organizers Tricia Schafer (left) and Johnny Lookabaugh (right).

You may recall how back in January I predicted a particular legal outcome. A recent contrary result demonstrates why writing rather than lawyer-predicting was a better career course-correction for me.

Back in January, I chuckled over an annual fundraising race called the Superb Owl. Hosted around the time of the Super Bowl, the organizers—and I—thought the charming diction would help the Owl fly beneath the radar of The Big Game’s organizers.

Owls aren't the only wise creature when it comes to avoiding trademark trouble. A lawyers group avoids Super Bowl with their Superb Owl 5K.

Superb? Yes? Super? That question is headed toward litigation.

No so fast.

As we see in last week’s story, the NFL has filed a trademark objection about the race, co-organized by attorney Tricia Schafer. The race is a 5K called the Superb Owl Shuffle. But the website is named So you see the problem.

As the Superb Owl would probably say, Who who who would have guessed the NFL would be prickly about its trademarks? Who would have predicted that such a smile-inducing name would ruffle feathers?

Not this guy, clearly. Happy running.

In-House Counsel BattleIn-House Counsel Battle At long last (or too soon, depending on your viewpoint), the long, long road culminating in the Super Bowl is over. Right now, you’re either Patriot-happy, Seahawks-bitter, or couldn’t care less and are simply awaiting forensic Deflate-gate results. After months of buildup, you may think you’ve heard every possible news angle.

But wait. The folks at Inside Counsel decided to talk to two in-house counsel from the teams’ home cities. Here was their approach:

“We decided to ask two senior in-house counsel some questions about football and law, ranging from whether Tom Brady or Russell Wilson would be a better lawyer, to what their pregame speech would be before exiting the tunnel. And we were right: Mark Roellig, general counsel of Springfield, Mass.-based MassMutual, and David Heiner, deputy general counsel of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, couldn’t be more different in their thoughts on the game, and the intersection of law and football, if we tried.”

Read the results of their conversation here. Smart, eh? So that got me wondering: Does your own favorite team have characteristics that might be reflected in their city’s lawyers? And why not go further? How about the team’s general counsel’s personality and outlook? What say, Cardinals fans? What team traits and views would the team’s lawyer hold? (And if you are David Koeninger, the team’s lawyer, feel free to weigh in! A previous team lawyer was once-prosecutor Michael Bidwell, now the Cards’ president. We are lawyered up in Phoenix!)

Owls aren't the only wise creature when it comes to avoiding trademark trouble. A lawyers group avoids Super Bowl with their Superb Owl 5K.

Owls aren’t the only wise creature when it comes to avoiding trademark trouble.

Super Bowl. There, I said it.

Of course, I’m not selling anything, or trying to use the name to market or sell something, so it’s unlikely I will hear from The Big Game’s legions of lawyers.

As I’ve noted before, though, that’s not been the result for other purveyors of goods and services, large or small. Woe betide the mom-and-pop store that advertises a “Super Bowl Sale,” for there could be confusion in the marketplace (or something).

Well, now that we know what teams will be duking it out in Arizona in just a few weeks (Patriots and Seahawks, in case you were not paying attention), I am pleased to share how one legal organization right here in the Grand Canyon State addressed the “Super Bowl” dilemma.

I recently heard from Tricia Schafer, COO at Arizona’s Finest Lawyers, who passed on this story. As she related, “We’ve had our 5K run in the works for awhile now, and this Arizona Republic article captures our twist on the phrase.”

Arizona's Finest Lawyers logoNot to hide the game ball, I will tell you that they named it “The Superb Owl Shuffle 5K.”

Click through to see how smart the solution they devised is. (Because lawyers are involved, they definitely thought it through and followed proper channels.)

And if you’re prone to run races rather than sprawl prone on your couch watching The Big Game, you can read more about and register for the 5K here.

The Super Bowl and Pro Bowl are headed to Arizona. If you're considering renting your home short-term, there are a few things you should consider.

The Super Bowl and Pro Bowl are headed to Arizona. If you’re considering renting your home short-term, there are a few things you should consider.

Today I am pleased to share a guest post written by an Arizona lawyer. Spencer Cashdan (see his bio after the post) offered a piece on an extremely timely topic: renting your home during Super Bowl season (or, really, anytime paying vacationers come to town).

If this question has ever intrigued you—or if you find yourself on the lessee end of the exchange, his leasing tips could be very valuable.

(And if you decide to rent your space, consider whether to tout it as a Super Bowl bargain, or if doing that would unduly rankle the Big Game organizers.)

Without further ado, here’s Spencer:

Each year, the Valley hosts myriad events such as the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Barrett–Jackson Collector Car Auction that attract out-of-state guests. This season, more visitors than ever will come to town in 2015 for the NFL Pro Bowl and the Big Game.

With more than 1 million people expected to flock to Phoenix, short-term rentals are in high demand. Valley homeowners have turned to renting out their property to capitalize on the influx of activity and money that we will see this upcoming year.

However, short-term or vacation rentals can have their own set of legal issues. That’s why I offer the following “Legal Leasing Tips” for homeowners.

Q: Is it legal in Arizona to rent property for a short-term lease?

A: Some homes are subject to covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that address the issue of whether short-term rentals are permitted. Absent any such recorded restriction affecting a home, renting your home is legal. However, acting as a broker to help rent another person’s home for them is not legal (unless you have a real estate license) because that is acting as a broker without a license.

Q: In creating a short-term rental agreement, are there any statutes or acts that must be included?

A: Any rental agreement must comply with the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. This act outlines many of the rights and responsibilities for both the landlord and the tenant.

Q: What do homeowners need to have in order to keep their home and valuables protected?

Spencer Cashdan Dickinson Wright

Attorney Spencer Cashdan, Member at Dickinson Wright law firm.

A: As for valuables in the home, they should either be removed prior to the renter’s occupancy, or the homeowner must take a sufficient security deposit to cover the cost of damage/stolen items. To ensure protection to homeowners, a credit check/background check can be performed to see if the renter has any past violations.

Q: From a visitor’s standpoint, what should they look for before entering into a rental agreement?

A: A visitor/renter needs to make sure that the purported owner of the property is, in fact, the owner, and has the authority to rent the property. These issues don’t often present themselves in a short-term one-week rental, but you never know. It’s easy to check ownership of property in Maricopa County—that information is free on the Maricopa County website, so it’s worth checking before signing a rental agreement.


With vacation rental rates ranging anywhere from $50 to $4,000 a night, keeping both parties safe in a rental agreement is ideal for the upcoming season of activity. Educated homeowners who take the necessary precautions before entering into an agreement will have little to worry about in terms of renting out their home.

About the Author: Spencer W. Cashdan is a member of the Arizona law office of Dickinson Wright PLLC. Cashdan is ranked among the Best Lawyers in America list, and represents clients in a broad range of real estate transactions for both unimproved real property and improved real property, including shopping centers, office buildings, hotels, industrial parks, mixed use developments and master planned communities. In addition to Arizona, Dickinson Wright has law offices in Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington D.C. and Toronto. Across over 40 practice areas, their team of 350 lawyers service a range of clients from Fortune 500 companies to small and emerging businesses and government entities, nonprofits and individuals.

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.