Have you noticed in a lot of ads leading up to the Super Bowl that they never actually use the term “Super Bowl”? You’ll see a lot of print, TV and radio ads urging folks to buy a high def TV to watch “the big game” or to buy all your groceries for the “big game.” Why is that? Because the NFL has trademarked the term “Super Bowl” and it takes the position that only official sponsors (i.e. ones that pay a BIG fee) can use the term. Here’s a post by Paul Alan Levy that begs to differ with the NFL’s position. It argues that so long as an advertiser doesn’t imply any affiliation with the NFL, or tries to pass itself off as some sort of “official” product of the Super Bowl, the use is nominative for trademark purposes. It’s like a sporting goods store advertising that it’s got Bengalapparel for sale. “Bengals” is a trademark, but it’s okay to use that term just to let people know you’ve got an item to sell. The use of “Super Bowl” in an ad that says “Buy your supplies here for your Super Bowl party” is the same thing. Levy may be right. But I wonder if any advertiser really wants to take on the NFL juggernaut over this. Levy calls the advertisers “weenies” for not standing up to the NFL, but I can’t blame them for punting. Of course, if the NFL is ever able to trademark the term “the big game” (and it tried ) that might be a different story.