Will we be able to say “College Football Playoff” or will it become “the Big Playoff?”

One of my favorite topics is how sports leagues try to censor descriptive uses of trademarks.  You’re all very familiar with the annual “Big Game” nonsense that is prompted by the NFL’s squad of IP linebackers.  If not, see THIS post.

Today, ESPN.com is reporting that the new college football playoff series will be branded as, drumroll……. the College Football Playoff.

I appreciate that the BCS executive director is quoted as saying that “It will not be cutesy. And it will be descriptive. I’ve seen too many people make mistakes by trying to be cutesy.”  Ok, as a trademark attorney, I tend to prefer “cutesy” (or arbitrary/fanciful) over “descriptive,” but I get it – the BCS wants something bold and descriptive.

But, any predictions on how long it will take the attorneys to start sending trademark cease and desist letters over people talking about the, uh, “College Football Playoff?”  I just can’t see how the IP maximalists that tend to infest the legal departments of sports leagues would green light this name unless they’re totally resigned to: a) just letting people use the “mark” descriptively without harassment, or b) sending threatening letters and trying to “educate” the public that “College Football Playoff” may not be used without the express written consent of….. blah blah blah.  My money is on the latter.

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