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  • how do you...

    ...explain to someone (an ad salesperson in this case) why they can't use a trademarked phrase such as "March Madness" in an ad without permission from the holder of the trademark? Our customer has used the phrase on fliers, so the salesperson doesn't see why I can't put it in the ad. He's probably pissed at me because if one of the other designers in my office had done the the ad, they probably wouldn't have been as geeky as me to make sure I could use the phrase. I used to work in sports marketing, so I know that there are people out there who keep their antennae tuned to unauthorized usage such as this. Am I being overly cautious in not wanting to use it?

  • #2
    You know the guy who says "Lets get ready to rumble" at the start of boxing matches and other similar events. That guy has trademarked that phrase and if its used by someone else and he or I guess his lawyers find out he will sue you. If I am not mistaken the phrase March Madness is trademarked by the NCAA and I think they would pretty much sue their own mother for using it without permission.
    How about a chain pickerel in your bath tub?

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    • #3
      Yeah, I know that and you know that. My problem is explaining this fairly basic concept to a salesman who doesn't want to hear it. He's been a salesman for many years and I've been a designer for only a handful. How do I tell him "I know better than you" without sounding like I'm being overly anal or disrespectful?

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      • #4
        (Oh, and I did make it clear that I couldn't use it and I won't, but he seemed pretty peeved about it.)

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        • #5
          I'm not sure how much more blunt you can be than saying, "Using a trademarked phrase when we don't have permission is illegal. If you can acquire that permission in writing, I would be more than happy to use it. If you can't get it in writing, I'm unable to use it."
          __________________________________________________
          I like to beat up pacifists, because they don't fight back ...

          N.A.N.K.A. "We Kick Because We Care."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Pica
            Yeah, I know that and you know that. My problem is explaining this fairly basic concept to a salesman who doesn't want to hear it. He's been a salesman for many years and I've been a designer for only a handful. How do I tell him "I know better than you" without sounding like I'm being overly anal or disrespectful?
            explain it to his boss who will in turn explain it to him
            lurkin'

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Pica
              (Oh, and I did make it clear that I couldn't use it and I won't, but he seemed pretty peeved about it.)
              I say you've done your job. You refused and told him why. Let him stew. He's only peeved because he has to go back to the customer and tell them why March Madness won't work - which will make him look like he doesn't know everything about everything - so he's peeved. He'll get over it.

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              • #8
                I guess the thing that annoys me most and is making it hard to explain to the salesguy is that there are too many folks out there using trademarked phrases left and right, so when I tell him that March Madness is a no-no, he can pick up some other paper and show me a handful of ads screaming March Madness. So when he asks, "they used it, why can't you?", is my only possible answer "because I'm smarter than them"?

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                • #9
                  A good response would be "can't use it because if the owner of the trademarked phrase finds out, they will sue the your company, your boss and YOU personally, and will lose your job." If he still insists on using the phrase, go to your boss about it and let him or her make that decision.
                  You want it when!? Well in that case, let me pull my magic wand out of my ass and take care of that for you.

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                  • #10
                    Why do people find that clever anyway? "I copy other people's sh!t!!! Look how creative I am!!!"

                    Kinda like the "got milk?" thing, where EVERYBODY uses that from food to tampons. It's not witty or clever, but instead annoying.

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                    • #11
                      Use "March Maddness" instead
                      Less be more.

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                      • #12
                        Heres a little legal secret...

                        when someones trademark is overly used by other people for an continually/extended period of time, it practically gets put into a catagory called "saturated usage"... this means that the original owner of the trademark pretty much loses their rights to it in a court of law unless it makes a direct conflict with the owners sales or brand image (i.e. being in the same exact market).

                        with the saying "March madness" you don't really have anything to worry about as long as your not in the same industry as the original owner.

                        this is the same thing with the whole "Got Milk?" thing
                        or even "As Seen on TV"

                        its good to have a Trademark Lawer in the office next to you...
                        www.standercreative.com

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                        • #13
                          ^I remember hearing something like this. But I think the trademark holder would have to ignor the infringement for a very long time (many years?) before it kicked in.

                          I believe Kleenex began to have a problem with this, because everyone started using the word Kleenex when referring to facial tissue. Kleenex came in ad defended their trade mark, and still do. Xerox had a similar issue, but I don't know if they've defended the word, or just let it go into the public lexicon.
                          www.QuiteGraphic.com
                          I'll double check your spelling if you'll double check mine. Two heads are better than one.

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                          • #14
                            Why are you so worried? If that person wants to use the trademark, let him do. It is on his own. You should only have a print version signed by him.

                            Does designers carry responsibility for (probable) trademarks they use doing mock-ups? It is a "pretty nice" job to check every word on the layout :-)

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                            • #15
                              It's a matter of ethics as well as a matter of covering one's own ass. Since our paper was designing the ad, we'd be responsible if NCAA got ticked off at the trademark usage. Yes, the client had it in the info they wanted included in the ad, but we're the professionals who are supposed to know better. By designing the ad, we're providing a service to our customer and accepting the responsibility to make sure it comes out right. You can't just slap a Coca-Cola logo or "Endorsed by Chuck Norris" on an ad an run it just because the customer signs off on it. That's illegal.

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