NCAA Sued After Getting In The Way Of Basketball Madness Trademark Application
The NCAA determined that it was going to file an opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board against Xooker for its “Basketball Madness” trademark application. So what did Xooker do? It decided to play offense and filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to declare that its use of Basketball Madness is not an infringement nor constitutes unfair competition with the NCAA’s marks.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on August 5. Xooker believes that its Basketball Madness mark used in connection with a mobile game is not likely to be confused with the NCAA’s “March Madness” marks that it has used for many years in association with its annual NCAA basketball tournaments.
Xooker points out that there are roughly 300 active trademark registrations and applications on the federal register for marks that use “Madness,” including “ARCH MADNESS” owned by the Missouri Valley Conference. That mark is seemingly much more similar to March Madness than Basketball Madness, yet was registered without successful interference by the NCAA.
It is also noted that the goods and services identified by Basketball Madness are not related to those identified by the NCAA’s eight March Madness registrations. Confusion has been deemed unlikely where competing marks are in totally unrelated classes of goods or services.
Further, Xooker says that it clearly displays its company in close proximity to Basketball Madness on its game. As such, it is not likely for consumers to believe that the NCAA is in any way associated with the product.
That said, the NCAA’s filing of an opposition is not all that surprising. The NCAA is normally very aggressive about enforcing its trademark registrations.
In January, the NCAA filed a federal complaint for trademark infringement against the owner of “Markdown Madness,” which was using the mark in connection with the sale of automobiles. In February 2017, the NCAA filed an opposition to The Big Ten Conference’s use of “MARCH IS ON!,” indicating that it has offered/sold millions of dollars’ worth of goods and services in connection with its March Madness marks and that it has spent significant sums advertising and promoting the marks throughout the United States.
Another recent interesting potential trademark opposition situation in the world of sports is one between the Minnesota Vikings and its quarterback Kirk Cousins over the mark “YOU VIKE THAT!“