Does Rob Gronkowski spiking a football remind you of Michael Jordon dunking from the foul line? Nike thinks it does! Through his company, Gronk Nation, LLC, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski filed a trademark application for the following silhouette of himself spiking a football. While the USTPO approved the application for publication, Nike has opposed registration, arguing that it will be damaged by the likelihood of confusion and brand dilution that will allegedly result from the similarity between Gronk’s silhouette and the iconic silhouette of Michael Jordan dunking.
While most trademark applications that are approved for publication register with no further issues, trademark opposition proceedings are a valuable and useful means to enforce and defend your trademarks. If an opposition is successfully fought to its conclusion, the new application will be rejected. But, short of that, these proceedings often present a useful opportunity to garner concessions from an applicant that is reaching into your space, pushing them away to avoid confusion rather than shutting them down entirely.
Nike v. Gronk has the potential to be more entertaining than most oppositions, although it would not be surprising to see an early settlement. If this does go forward it should be interesting to watch Nike attempt to prove that Gronk is confusingly similar with Mike.