Monday afternoon’s (AEST) Super Bowl LI has already been described as the “greatest of all time” by many experts, with the New England Patriots pulling off an extraordinary come from behind performance to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28.

The win saw Tom Brady, New England’s legendary quarterback, win his fifth Super Bowl, and fourth Super Bowl MVP, placing him as the winningest quarterback in NFL history. Having trailed Atlanta 28-3 midway through the third quarter, Brady and the Patriots came to life, suffocating the Falcons with their defensive pressure and surgically picking them apart on offence. The game was ultimately decided in overtime, the first in Super Bowl history, when Patriots’ running back James White barged over the line for the game-winning touchdown.

The Super Bowl has long been seen as one of the crown jewels in the U.S, and world, sporting calendar, and statistics from the latest installment demonstrate the enormity of the event:

  • the cheapest tickets to attend the game at NRG Stadium in Houston were being sold for $2,800 on the NFL’s official ticket exchange site, with seats going for as much as $20,000 to sit behind the end zone.
     
  • According to purchasers of advertising space on television during the game, the average cost of a 30-second advertisement was approximately $5 million, with additional expenditure on marketing for the actual ads reportedly costing between 25 percent of that cost to the same amount.
     
  • Houston’s hosting of the game was reported to cost the city an estimated $5.5 million. However, the game was also expected to bring at least an estimated $350 million to the local economy through expenditure in local businesses by visitors to the city.
     
  • After performing in the Super Bowl halftime show, Lady Gaga sold approximately 150,000 digital albums and songs in the U.S. on the day of the game, which was an increase of 1,000% from her sales on the day before the game, according to Nielsen Music.
     
  • Super Bowl LI was the second most-watched event in Fox history (behind only Super Bowl XLVIII), and the fifth most-watched program in U.S. TV history. 

With so much interest in the game, and potential opportunities for businesses to capitalise on its popularity, the NFL have ensured they are suitably protected against exploitation by trademarking the phrase, “Super Bowl”. The NFL also owns the copyright to the broadcast of the game internationally.

The move to trademark the phrase, “Super Bowl”, provides the NFL with the power to enforce its rights to its intellectual property, and ensures they control the branding of the sport, and the game specifically. Even Taylor Swift’s DirecTV “Super Saturday Night” performance, which was said to include NFL legends such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Michael Strahan, did not contain any reference to the name “Super Bowl” in its branding, as they had either not applied for or received approval from the NFL to use the phrase in any marketing.

Importantly for consumers, the NFL’s defensive approach to safeguarding its intellectual property protects buyers against misleading or deceptive conduct arising from products or events that falsely claim to be affiliated with the NFL.

After another historic Super Bowl both on and off the field, the NFL’s worldwide popularity continues to grow, giving the league even more impetus to safeguard its valuable assets.  Although a long off-season awaits, the Patriots and Falcons have left us with a memory to savour – a fitting result for one of the world’s most iconic spectacles.

For advice or further information regarding Sports Law, please contact: 

Ashleigh Wall
Special Counsel
T  03 5226 8559
E  awall@ha.legal

or

Jesse Drever
Lawyer
T  03 5225 5226
E  jdrever@ha.legal