(Our Annual Reminder to be careful how you use “Super Bowl”® and other NFL trademarks)

If I had my way, I’d probably never write on this topic again.

Every year I rack my brain for a hook to help re-remind readers about the dangers of using the term “Super Bowl”® – and any “Super Bowl”®-related trademarks. (Spoiler alert: Be very careful before including references to “Super Bowl”® in most any non-news/non-sports context.) After years of posts trying to get the message across, it’s hard to keep the material fresh.

And that’s especially true because, as I’ve been very clear in earlier posts on this topic that, I’m not really an NFL guy.

Of course, I realize that not all others share my view. In fact, as I was flying back across the country on Sunday, the other two people in my row were outfitted in Aaron Rodgers jerseys and apparently spent $30 for the inflight WiFi just to obtain written play by play updates from ESPN.com. As a dedicated sports fan myself, I legitimately felt sorry for them when I looked over and saw them futilely swiping the screen over and over again, praying that the Pack’s 17-0 deficit would magically disappear (of course, things only went from bad to worse).

The dedication of those two crazy cheese heads inspired me to push through my own prejudices and address the topic of the NFL and its stranglehold on “Super Bowl”® and related and other trademarks. After all, we have established that no matter how little you are, the league will try to shut you down.

The key point to remember, as always, is that the NFL polices its trademarks – “Super Bowl”® and otherwise – very actively. In the NFL’s view, you cannot use the NFL’s marks for any commercial or promotional purpose like parties, endorsements, advertisements, sponsorships, contests, etc. There are certain “Fair Uses” where use of team names and the game in news stories is permitted, but that’s about it. And don’t forget, even if you do pick a legitimate “Fair Use,” the NFL may not agree with you, which could mean a heap of litigation costs to prove your point.

Sure, we can all agree that the NFL’s stance with regard to its marks may be (more than) a tad aggressive. But if you don’t have the stomach for taking on a multi-billion dollar entity which has shown little regard about its public image when it comes to this sort of thing (not to mention bigger things that actually matter to society like the best interests of its players and fans,) then you should probably proceed cautiously.

There that’s done.

And now, time for my annual prediction based on little to no real knowledge of football. Even though they surprised a lot of people, I’m sure, by shutting down a red-hot Green Bay Packers team that has just run off a series of nine straight, effectively must-win, games, I think the Falcons are going to be overmatched. Yes, I know that people have been sleeping on the Falcons all season and, in fact, it’s probably Atlanta, not Green Bay, that was always the “hot” team and they can score at will. But we’re talking about the New England Patriots here, a team that managed to win three of four at the beginning of the season even with their MVP-candidate quarterback suspended due to “Deflategate.”

Speaking of which, maybe I’m being prejudiced by my desire to see what would be the most awkward post-game trophy award ever, as Roger Goodell has to shake the hands of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, but you give Belichick two weeks to prepare for a game and he’s gonna get it done.

New England 31 – Atlanta 27.