SPM397- Legal Issues and Risk Management in Sport
NCAA Wins in Trademark Infringement Case against Kizzang
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) administers inter-collegiate sports across the United States and is most known for the Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament, held in March each year known as “March Madness.” In 2015, CBS news reported through its passionate fan base, “March Madness’s expected to wager $9 billion on the tournament, roughly double the amount bet on the Super Bowl”(Berr, CBS news). The tournament brings in over $900 million in revenue for the NCAA, mostly coming from broadcasting rights, and marketing. The NCAA owns many trademarks related to that tournament, most prominently "March Madness," "Final Four," "Elite Eight" and "Sweet Sixteen," and does not permit using the NCAA’s name, trademarks or tickets in connection with marketing or promotional activities without prior approval.
A Las Vegas-based online fantasy sports sweepstakes company, called Kizzang, developed a mobile and online game under the names "Final Three" and "April Madness," whereby users could enter their predictions about the outcomes of individual games in the Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. The NCAA notified Kizzang’s Chairman, President, and Founder, Robert Alexander, of their Trademark infringement, however, ignoring the warnings, Kizzang continued offering the game, eventually filing for federal trademark registrations for the marks "Final Three" and "April Madness." In response, the NCAA filed oppositions with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in February 2017.
After founder, Robert Alexander disregards the NCAA’s opposition; the NCAA sues Kizzang for “alleging trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition”(Hanna, Sports and Entertainment Law Insider). The NCAA’s complaint in federal court was the defendants selected "Final Three" and "April Madness" because of their similarity to the NCAA’s "Final Four" and "March Madness" with the intention to exploit the goodwill the marks are associated with. The NCAA requested that the company recalls all products, services, advertising...