Tom Brady Attempts To Trademark The Nickname He Doesn't Even Want, That's Already Used By A Famous NY Met With Dementia
We've talked for some time about the increasing trend in professional sports for athletes to seek trademarks on anything and everything that might possibly be branded. This trend has actually spilled over into some professional sports teams themselves attempting to get trademarks for the athletes that play for the team. It is all frankly very irritating and smells purely of the kind of money-grab that was absolutely not the point of trademark law to begin with, but at least we can say for most of these cases that the slogans and nicknames for which trademarks are sought are fairly unique.This is most certainly not the case for Tom Brady, who's company, TEB Capital, has applied for a trademark on one of his nicknames, "Tom Terrific", for trading cards, sports merch, and clothing. There's only one problem: Tom Terrific is indeed a well-known nickname... of former NY Met Tom Seaver.
The hardly humble New England Patriots quarterback is seeking to trademark the moniker “Tom Terrific” — the same nickname bestowed upon legendary Mets’ Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver.Brady’s recent trademark application was discovered by a Philadelphia law firm and instantly sent Mets fans into a tizzy.Seaver frankly popularized the nickname Tom Terrific in the sporting world. He never trademarked the nickname, of course, because that wasn't the trend decades ago. And he most certainly will not be trademarking it now, given that he is suffering from dementia and is not well. Brady's trademark, if granted, would seem to limit what Seaver, the original Tom Terrific, can do with his own nickname that will be under the control of Brady, a lesser (pretender?) Tom Terrific. On the question of public confusion, the reaction by New Yorkers is instructive. It's also entertaining in the reactions' massive amounts of New-York-ness.
“Tom Brady is an arrogant pr–k,” Mets superfan Dom D’Angelo, 55, fumed outside his team’s Citi Field ballpark in Queens on Sunday. “He’s not getting his cheating, ball-deflating paws on ‘Tom Terrific.’ Go back to Boston and get your own f–king name, Brady.”Even Yankees fan Michael Robinson said Brady shouldn’t be going after Seaver’s moniker.“He’s got Gisele [Bündchen] — what else does he need?” Robinson remarked of Brady and his model wife.Poll the average American sports fan and ask them who Tom Terrific is and the overwhelmingly consistent answer you will get is Tom Seaver. If that's the case, it doesn't make much sense with respect to the purpose of trademark law to grant Brady exclusive rights to sporting merch for that term.Oh, and if you thought it wasn't bad enough already, the story turns out to be even worse. Brady is claiming he's only trying to trademark the name because he hates it and wants to stop people from using it:
It's unfortunate. I was actually trying to do something because I didn't like the nickname, and I want to make sure no one used it because some people wanted to use it, Brady said at Gillette Stadium. I was trying to keep people from using it, and then it got spun around to something different than what it was.This is not how any of this works. First of all, you don't get to just register a trademark on a nickname to get people to stop using it. You only can register the trademark if you are using it in commerce -- not if you're trying to just stop others from calling you a name. Second... huh? Why would you even bother to trademark a name if you (incorrectly) thought that this would magically stop people from calling you a name you didn't like. None of this makes any sense at all. It's really not terrific, Tom.