Most of those familiar with the National Football League (NFL) are also familiar with the winners of the 2017 Super Bowl, the New England Patriots. One of the most outspoken and recognizable players on the New England Patriots is number 87; tight end Rob Gronkowski.  Gronkowski is well known for his love of partying and his “Gronk Spike,” the famous celebratory football spike after a touchdown. Gronkowski has taken the famous spike a step further by having his company Gronk Nation L.L.C., file a trademark registration application for an image/logo of him spiking the football, referred to as the Spikeman logo. The Spikeman logo is to be associated with Gronkowski’s Gronk Fitness® website for the sale of clothing and exercise equipment. The Spikeman logo is also to be associated with Gronkowski’s personal party bus called “Gronk Bus.”

Gronkowski filed a trademark registration application for his logo in late 2016.  The United States Patent and Trademark Office approved the trademark registration application for publication.  Unfortunately, for Gronkowski, Nike feels his logo is a bit too similar to that of their famous Michael Jordan “Jumpman” logo which depicts a silhouette of Michael Jordan in the air dunking a basketball. Nike has used the Michael Jordan Jumpman logo since November of 1987. Nike filed an opposition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) opposing the trademark registration approval of the Spikeman logo.  

Troy Carnrite, attorney for Gronkowski, feels that his “client has created one of the most recognizable brands in sports today. We are very proud of this brand and are optimistic that we will resolve this with Nike amicably.”

There are rumors as to what the filing of the trademark registration application for the Spikeman logo means for the relationship between Gronkowski and Nike. Not only has Gronkowski appeared in commercials for Nike, the company also released a signature shoe for him last year. On the field, Gronkowski wears Nike cleats and the uniform he wears also displays the signature Nike swoosh.

Although anyone could potentially file a trademark for their logo, the problem enters when the new trademark is similar to an existing trademark in such a way that would lead to a likelihood of consumer confusion. Nike feels the similarities between the two logos is too close and would cause such confusion.   A spokesperson for Nike stated they “hope to work this out to everyone’s satisfaction.”

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with any patent, trademark, or copyright matters and would like to speak to one of our patent attorneys please contact us.