Last year, we wrote about the NCAA filing a trademark application for BATTLE IN THE BUBBLE. We speculated that the NCAA might look to use the mark for future tournaments, depending on the COVID-19 risks. At the time, both the NHL and the NBA participated in post-season tournaments in bubble environments. As such, the NCAA extending the idea to a tournament like March Madness made complete sense. However, we also warned that the NCAA might face a refusal based on a prior registration. Whatever happened to the BATTLE IN THE BUBBLE mark?


As we predicted, the BATTLE IN THE BUBBLE mark received an initial refusal based on BUBBLE BATTLES, registered since 2018. However, BUBBLE BATTLES refers to a very particular type of recreational activity – sporting events in which the players wear bubbles. As such, the examining attorney suggested an amendment to the recitation to exclude “activities involving wearable inflatable balls”. The NCAA accepted the suggested amendment from the examining attorney. As a result, the BATTLE IN THE BUBBLE mark published on February 9, 2021, and can formally proceed forward.

With March Madness on the horizon, will we see the BATTLE IN THE BUBBLE trademark?

As of now, it looks like the March Madness tournament won’t be associated with the BATTLE IN THE BUBBLE mark. No marketing material for the first two rounds includes the mark; as such, it looks like the NCAA might wait to unveil the mark, if it ever does. Perhaps the mark will be used as a tagline for the Final Four if fans are still not allowed in the arena; we’ll have to wait to see the NCAA’s plans. What we know right now is that March Madness starts on Friday with the Florida Gators game; as always, Go Gators!

Why did the BATTLE IN THE BUBBLE trademark receive a rejection?

The mark received an initial refusal based on the BUBBLE BATTLES trademark, which is registered in the same class of services.

Could the NCAA have prevented a refusal of the BATTLE IN THE BUBBLE mark?

A filing earlier in 2020 wouldn’t have helped in this situation. However, the recitation of services could have initially excluded bubble-based activities, thereby preempting the refusal.