I have a confession to make about my sports team interests. Typically, if I like a team, the team performs poorly. I have a theory that I cursed myself by skipping an undergraduate class to watch the Gators win the 2008 BCS National Championship. As of Monday night, my sincere hope is that the curse is lifted. My beloved Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup for the second time since its inaugural season in 1992. Yesterday, Nick Pfeifer wrote about the Stanley Cup’s trademark rights. Inspired by the article, I decided to look into another of my favorite sports trademarks – the HEISMAN TROPHY.

Is HEISMAN Distinctive or Primarily a Surname?

While the Heisman won’t be awarded for a few months, a modified college football season is underway. Fans of the sport are undoubtedly familiar with the term HEISMAN as being distinctive to the trophy; however, back in 2000, the Trademark Office refused registration of the HEISMAN TROPHY trademark application. The Trademark Office argued that the term HEISMAN is primarily merely a surname, finding 98 listings for the name Heisman. As such, the Trademark Office refused registration of the HEISMAN TROPHY trademark.

At that point, the owners of the marks faced an uphill battle. Luckily, prior registrations existed for HEISMAN dating back to the 1970s and 1980s. However, another challenge existed; the original application listed an incorrect owner, as compared with previous HEISMAN trademarks. Instead of listing the ownership as The Heisman Trophy Trust, the original application listed The Heisman Memorial Trophy Trust. Incorrect ownership listings can doom a trademark application; however, after an extended prosecution with the Trademark Office, HEISMAN TROPHY finally registered as a trademark in 2003.

We’ll have to see who wins the award during this challenging season. University of Florida quarterback Kyle Trask appears to be among the early favorites. I’m aware that I’m biased, but I hope he wins the award; he’s an inspiring figure about never giving up on your dream, even if you’re a backup quarterback. Regardless, I hope everyone stays safe during college football season; that we get through the entire season without any substantial outbreaks; and, of course, that the Florida Gators win the College Football Playoffs just like my Lightning won the Stanley Cup. Go Bolts, and Go Gators!