Cowboys and Patriots Both Want their NFL Players to “DO YOUR JOB”
By Peggy Keene, Klemchuk LLP
It all started out with an innocent tour of the Dallas Cowboys’ new training facility in Frisco, Texas. High resolution photographs quickly found their way onto the Internet, and eagle-eyed fans noticed a familiar phrase splashed on the locker room wall, “Do Your Job.” At first blush, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. In fact, most NFL fans have already come to associate that particular phrase with a NFL team.
The only problem is that team is the New England Patriots, not the Dallas Cowboys.
Devoted NFL football fans know that “Do Your Job” became synonymous with head coach Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots during their 2014 season. Belichick, a man famous for being of very few words, made the “Do Your Job” mantra famous when he used these simple three words in an explanation to the media as to how he coaches his team to success. That same year Belichick would go on to prove the power in such simplicity by leading his team to a Super Bowl win, the fourth for his franchise. In 2015, the “Do Your Job” mantra became further intertwined, in the minds of fans, with the New England Patriots when NFL Films released a documentary under that the same name, using the refrain as the central theme and motif for the documentary while illustrating the Patriots’ coaching style.
So understandably, ESPN created a bit of a stir this past week when it reported that the Cowboys had painted the phrase on their new locker room while simultaneously noting that the New England Patriots own three trademark registrations for the phrase. Commentators and NFL fans alike wondered aloud whether this meant that two high-profile owners, Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft, would end up on opposing sides of the court room instead of on the field.
A quick trademark search reveals that the New England Patriots indeed owns trademark rights in the phrase. Contrary to what ESPN reported, the Patriots only own two registered trademarks for “DO YOUR JOB,” as the third one is still pending. Notably, however, the Patriots also hold a registration for “DO YOUR JOB!”(a different trademark due to the inclusion of the exclamation point) and have applied for protection of “DO YOUR JOB WELL” for use in with a description of services identical to the registration that they currently hold “DO YOUR JOB” for.
Despite these registrations, however, it is unlikely that the Cowboys’ mere use of the phrase on a locker room wall will result in a trademark infringement lawsuit. If the Cowboys were to use the phrase in connection with any of the specific goods and services that the Patriots have registered the trademark in connection with, however, that would be a different story. Because the Patriots have registered the trademark for “DO YOUR JOB” in connection withentertainment services, specifically, for commentary on sports events via the internet, any use of the phrase in a NFL setting that overlaps with the Patriots could be contentious. If the Cowboys truly intend to use the phrase in a commercial manner, they should look into licensing the trademark in a similar manner as the Seattle Seahawks franchise does with Texas A&M University for rights to the “12th Man.”
Klemchuk LLP is an Intellectual Property (IP), Technology, Internet, and Business law firm located in Dallas, TX. The firm offers comprehensive legal services including litigation and enforcement of all forms of IP as well as registration and licensing of patents, trademarks, trade dress, and copyrights. The firm also provides a wide range of technology, internet, e-commerce, and business services including business planning, formation, and financing, mergers and acquisitions, business litigation, data privacy, and domain name dispute resolution. Additional information about the intellectual property law firm and its intellectual property attorneys may be found at www.klemchuk.com.