It’s “March Madness!”

For those of you that have been feverishly watching the NCAA basketball tournament:

march madness

March Madness” is a trademark!  It happens to be registered by a holding company owned by the NCAA and a high school athletic association located in Illinois called March Madness Athletic Association, L.L.C. Apparently the Illinois High School Association has used the term since the 1930s!

“March is also a busy month for the lawyers in charge of enforcing [ ] trademarked properties, which include ‘March Madness,’ ‘Elite Eight’ and ‘Final Four.’ ”

For more info on how the term gained its “dual use” then click here, or check out the Illinois High School Association v. GTE Vantage, Inc. , 99 F.3d 244(7th Cir. 1996) decision.  For a few related Law Review articles:

  • Joseph E. Washington, THE IMPACT OF PUBLIC AND MEDIA USE ON TRADEMARK RIGHTS: AN ANALYSIS OF ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOL ASS’N V. GTE VANTAGE INC. AND “DUAL-USE” TERMS, 48 Cath. U. L. Rev. 605 (1999)
  • David Y. Gan, “MARCH MADNESS”: AN EXAMINATION OF DUAL-USE TRADEMARK TERMS AND REVERSE CONFUSION, 50 Hastings L.J. 223 (1998)
  • Jason R. Wolfersberger, ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOL ASSOCIATION V. GTE VANTAGE, INC.: DUAL-USE CLASSIFICATION THREATENS THE EXTINCTION OF AMERICA’S SMALL TRADEMARK HOLDER, 32 Ga. L. Rev. 363 (1997).

The term “March Madness” also garnered dispute when a sports entertainment website owner was sued for trademark infringement.  The ultimate issue was whether “March Madness” was a “generic term?” (See March Madness Athletics Ass’, v. Netfire, 310 F.Supp. 2d 786 (N.D. Tex. 2003)).  For a summary of the case click here.

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