May 15, 2019
The NCAA currently holds about 70 federally registered trademarks, 24 of which relate exclusively to catchphrases associated with the college basketball tournament known as “March Madness”. The protected marks include, among others: “The Big Dance”, “Final Four”, “Dribble” and “68 TEAMS, ONE DREAM”.
According to Minneapolis-based trademark lawyer Christopher Schulte, if the NCAA’s marketing team comes up with “a phrase that’s sort of suggestive of the tournament, or they get wind of something, they try to get their arms around it” before the phrase becomes so common that it cannot be trademarked by anybody.
The NCAA has been known to carefully control and aggressively defend unauthorized uses of its trademarks. This helps to protect and guard the brand while ensuring the NCAA receives its fair share of licensing revenue from ticket sales, merchandise and advertising.
Authors: Larissa Fulop and Daniel Seidman