Following the NFL Conference Championship games (to be played on January 19, 2020), Super Bowl LIV (54) will be held on February 2, 2020 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The NFL carefully protects its copyrights and trademarks for the Conference Championship playoff games and the Super Bowl. If your station plans to conduct promotions or contests related to these games, you should obtain all necessary licenses to avoid infringing on the NFL’s rights. Even if your station has obtained broadcast rights for one or more playoff games and/or the Super Bowl from the NFL, you do not automatically obtain advertising or promotional rights that would allow you to use the NFL or Super Bowl name, logo, or other trademarks in station-produced promotions or contests. Before doing so, you need to confirm that such use is permitted under your agreement with the NFL.
Use of NFL Trademarks
The NFL controls all marketing rights to the Conference Championship games, the Super Bowl, and various associated trademarks. Unlicensed use of the NFL’s trademarks for the sale or promotion of any products, services, or contests is unlawful, and the use of a disclaimer such as “not an official sponsor of the Super Bowl” will not provide adequate protection from an infringement claim.
Use of NFL Terminology in Marketing
Without express written permission from the NFL and/or the teams involved, you may not use the following, or related protected words or logos, in marketing or promotions, whether on-air, in print, online, or otherwise:
- “Super Bowl”
- “Super Sunday”
- The Super Bowl logo
- “NFL,” “AFC,” or “NFC”
- “National Football League”
- “American Football Conference”
- “National Football Conference”
- Any team name (for example, “Vikings” or “Chiefs”) or nickname
You may, however, say or print:
- “The Big Game in Miami”
- “The Professional Football Championship Game in Miami”
- The date of the game (for example, “The February 2nd Game”)
- The names of the cities or states of the competing teams in the playoff games or the Super Bowl (for example, “Tennessee” or “Kansas City”), but not the team names
- You can make fun of the fact that you cannot say the phrase “Super Bowl” (for example, by bleeping it out)
Advertisements Produced By Third Parties
Before accepting pre-produced advertisements relating to a Conference Championship game or the Super Bowl, your station should confirm that the advertiser has the necessary contractual rights to use NFL copyrights and trademarks. The NFL’s copyrights and trademarks, including Super Bowl-related marks, are usually licensed separately for different categories of products and services. For example, the NFL might grant a license to one particular brewing company to be the “official” Super Bowl beer sponsor, to one particular automobile manufacturer to be the official Super Bowl automobile sponsor, and so forth. Such sponsors are usually large corporations that can afford to pay the high licensing fees associated with official Super Bowl sponsorship. For this reason, you should exercise extra caution if a smaller, local advertiser provides your station a pre-produced ad related to one of these games. It may be unlikely that such an advertiser has actually obtained the necessary NFL copyrights and trademarks for its ad.
The NFL and its authorized agents and licensees are the only legal sources for distribution of tickets to a Conference Championship game or to the Super Bowl. Your station should not conduct a promotion giving away tickets to these games, even if your station validly purchased the tickets. You can only conduct this type of promotion if your station, or a third-party contest sponsor, has written authority from the NFL to be an official sponsor for the game.
News Reporting and Use of Highlights
Unless your station has obtained official press credentials, you cannot report on a Conference Championship game or the Super Bowl from the venue while the game is ongoing. Once the game has ended, however, you may report the “news” of the event, such as the winner and score of the game.
Before broadcasting highlights of the game or the half-time show or posting clips or images on a website, your station needs to obtain consent from the NFL and any other rights holders.