With the Super Bowl around the corner, you and your business might be thinking about some football-themed promotions or offerings.

Be careful.

The NFL has trademarks, and they are not afraid to enforce them.

Be careful with trademarks relating to the Super Bowl.

NFL team names, and the term “Super Bowl” itself, are protected by federal trademark registrations. Even colors and color combinations of NFL teams are protected trademarks.

Here’s the biggest tip we can give: avoid using these protected trademarks in your business.

Understand this is serious, but there are exceptions.

Take an example from 2007. A church in Indiana decided to hold a viewing party for the Super Bowl in support of the Indianapolis Colts. This church decided to promote it as a “Super Bowl” party. In response, the NFL sent a cease and desist letter to the church.

That said, don’t let this post scare you into thinking you can never use the words “Super Bowl” without getting a threatening letter from the NFL. Individuals can absolutely use the phrase without consequence. The key is this: you can’t use the phrase in commerce. In other words, if you or your business will profit from promoting the phrase, steer clear.

So, let’s say you’re a cake designer. By all means, design and sell some cakes with footballs on them. Just don’t use “Super Bowl,” the team names, or color combinations that imply those teams.

Looking at if from their perspective.

Now, reading this blog post may force you to rethink some of your business plans. You might be frustrated, and understandably so.

Before you point that frustration towards the NFL, try to understand things from their perspective. They are operating from a solid understanding of trademark laws and how they work. If a businesses uses the NFL’s trademarks, it could create an appearance to consumers that the business is an official part of the Super Bowl.