Jan 29, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) addresses the press during media day in preparation for Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
(USA TODAY) -- Colin Kaepernick says he isn't being greedy.
At first glance,
the decision by the San Francisco 49ers quarterback to apply to register
"Kaepernicking" and five other terms with the U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office might appear to be a play for cash.
He insists his motives are pure.
Taylor is a foundation that I'm connected with right now, and anything I
can do to help them and help those kids is something I want to do,"
Kaepernick said Thursday.
That's not uncommon, says Vanessa
Backman, the intellectual property counsel at The Consul Group, a
Portland, Ore.-based law firm.
"A lot of players have foundations
under their name or affiliated with their name," she says. "And a lot
aren't taking money for themselves, but to prevent misuse of their
More and more athletes are applying for trademarks to protect their
image or, to be more precise, their brand. Washington Redskins
quarterback Robert Griffin III has applied for "unbelievably
believable," the turn of phrase he uttered during his Heisman Trophy
That's undeniably unique to Griffin, but that's also the point of the trademark.
there is some money to be made from capitalizing on a hot theme," said
Mark McKenna, a professor at Notre Dame School of Law specializing in
intellectual property, via e-mail. "That moment is, for most of your
examples, pretty fleeting - think 'Linsanity.' But it's possible it is
enough to justify some interest.
"But in the cases in which the
phrases refer to a particular individual, sometimes they're less
concerned with using the term themselves to make money than they are in
controlling that term and preventing others from using it - especially
if they are concerned about it being used in some unsavory way."
Thomas, a New York-based attorney whose forte is intellectual property
rights, advises her athlete and entertainer clients to act quickly.
"It's important because if they don't get around to trademarking it, someone else will," Thomas says.
The fee ranges between $275 and $325 for online, and $375 for submitting a paper application.
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speaking, there are two categories in which to file an application: in
use, or intent to use. In 2011, there were 301,786 new applications to
register trademarks. By the end of 2011, the number of active
registrations was 1,755,578.
While his intentions might be different, Kaepernick certainly has a lot of company.
aren't just out there playing football - they're out there doing
reality shows, clothing lines, coming up with record labels," Thomas
"If Kaepernick doesn't file for it, that gives me or you the
right to make a million T-shirts with his name on it and make a profit
off his name and his brand. Colin is trying to make sure that doesn't
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Jeffrey Martin, USA TODAY Sports