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New Legal Question

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Aaron Cadieux
New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 3:43:53 pm

Hello,

The company I work for will be producing a commercial for a local car dealership. The spot is slated to run during New England Patriots football games. Obviously we don't have permission to mention the Patriots in the commercial, or to use their logo.

If we shoot a spot with the talent wearing Patriots colors (but not an official Patriots jersey with the Patriots logo on it), and she says the line "go Pats" (not "Go Patriots"), what kind of legalities might we be toying with?

Again, we are not displaying the Patriots logo, and we are saying "Go Pats", instead of "Go Patriots".

Just a side note, I've seen many businesses produce commercials with the line "Go Sox" in it when that business is not affiliated with the Boston Red Sox.

Are nicknames for teams and organizations Trademarked along with official names?

Thanks,

Aaron



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David Roth Weiss
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:09:27 pm

Aaron,

Reading between the lines of your post, it's seems that what you're really saying is: "We would like to capitalize on an affiliation with the New England Patriots, but we either can't afford it, don't wish to pay for it, or for some other reason we are unable to affiliate ourselves officially in the sanctioned and legally approved manner, so we're looking for loopholes."

Is that a close translation?

Can you read between the lines and guess what my thought is on the subject?

David

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Aaron Cadieux
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:53:08 pm

David,

I have nothing to do with the writing of and development of our spots. I am, however, more concious of the law than my bosses are. If we get sued, I could lose my job, so it's in my best interest to ask these questions. And yes, I am looking for a loophole, because no we can't afford to pay the Patriots, and the car dealership is not an "official" sponsor. And if I had to "read between the lines" on your "thoughts" on the subject, I would guess that you would never try to imply affiliation with an organization without an agreement in place, and that you would never try to take advantage of a loophole.

I've thought more about my original post in the last couple hours, and having her say "Go New England" instead of "Go Pats" would spare us any potential legal ramifications (sp?). After all, the Patriots can't stop us from using their colors, they can only top us from mentioning their name, or using their logo.

Best,

Aaron



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David Roth Weiss
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 5:31:23 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "I've thought more about my original post in the last couple hours, and having her say "Go New England" instead of "Go Pats" would spare us any potential legal ramifications (sp?). After all, the Patriots can't stop us from using their colors, they can only top us from mentioning their name, or using their logo. "

I don't believe that's so Aaron. There's really only one football team referred to as "New England," so it is transparent to anyone that a football related ad referring to New England is an attempt to capitalize on the Patriots name and the marketability that comes with it.

I'm not criticizing you, I'm critical of the Patriots tie-in. Like Mike suggested, it's quite alright to be creative and to toss in as much football stuff as possible, just abandon anything that attempts to capitalize on the Pats.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Aaron Cadieux
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 7:13:27 pm

I see where you're coming from, but isn't running a football-themed ad (regardless of the spot's copy) during a Patriots game capitalizing on the Patriots anyway? After all, running a football-themed ad during a soap opera wouldn't nearly be as effective.



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David Roth Weiss
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 7:16:07 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "isn't running a football-themed ad (regardless of the spot's copy) during a Patriots game capitalizing on the Patriots anyway?"

Absolutely! But, not in way that can be construed, rightly or wrongly, as capitalizing directly on their brand. Therein lies the difference.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Brendan Coots
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 25, 2009 at 1:42:47 am

hmmm, personally I think there's cautious and there's downright nervous-nelly.

Now I'm no lawyer, but I can confidently say that neither the Patriots nor the NFL are going to go after a local dealership for saying "go New England" or wearing blue/silver/red/white. You could even play it safe by putting a tiny disclaimer at the bottom of the screen stating clearly that neither the patriots nor the NFL sponsor or endorse the message, and that no relationship is implied yada yada.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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David Roth Weiss
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 25, 2009 at 2:42:35 am

[Brendan Coots] "hmmm, personally I think there's cautious and there's downright nervous-nelly. "

The NFL has people on this stuff 24/7 Brendan, and you're suggesting that Aaron and his company should just assume the best. You know what they say about those who assume...

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Brendan Coots
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:10:41 pm

I'm sure you're right about the NFL, and as I said I'm no lawyer. No one should EVER listen to legal advice from those of us who aren't lawyers.

But my stance is that the NFL isn't likely to pursue a dealership for flashing team colors and saying "go New England." A court of law would expect the NFL to show harm, and/or that consumers could reasonably be confused that this was an endorsement or affiliation. Saying "go New England" doesn't directly invoke any of the NFL's trademarks and therefore, in my opinion, they would have absolutely no grounds for a C&D or lawsuit.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Scott Carnegie
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 25, 2009 at 2:05:26 pm

Best thing is to just ask them if it's okay.

Obviously no logo, mentioning their name in the copy? Nothing against the law about that. Don't make it sound like they are endorsing you or that you have an official relationship of some kind.

You can say the words Pepsi or Brad Pitt in a commercial; the words are coming out of your talents mouth, no one's I.P. is being used.


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walter biscardi
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:29:01 pm

No logo, no team name, I would think you're ok. Team colors are fine since they're just red white and blue.

Just absolutely positively stay away from the official shirts / logos and don't say the full name Patriots. I would think Go Pats is probably generic enough, but if you really want to be completely safe you could even go more generic like "Let's go Win!" or "Let's Go!" or some variant of that.

Are nicknames copyrighted? I'm not sure. You could look at the official Patriots website and see if they have a "Go Pats" is an officially trademarked yada yada yada of the New England Patriots Football Team, etc...





Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
Credits include multiple Emmy, Telly, Aurora and Peabody Awards.
Owner, Biscardi Creative Media featuring HD Post

Biscardi Creative Media

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Mike Cohen
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:33:38 pm

Why not contact the front office of the Pats. They probably have a PDF they can send you of what's allowed and what isn't.
As for your actual commercial, there are so many things you can do to show football without having team jerseys and logos. Think about the displays at your local supermarket leading up to the superbowl. My Stop and Shop store surrounds their Doritos display with astroturf, football imagery, pom poms and generic banners.
The audience knows who the local team is, you don't have to pretend to be something you are not. Just sell the cars, the service and the idea of local team spirit.
Stock footage of a generic football game, crowd noise and footbally graphics can go a long way.
Focus on the message.

Mike Cohen


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walter biscardi
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:39:07 pm

Good stuff Mike!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
Credits include multiple Emmy, Telly, Aurora and Peabody Awards.
Owner, Biscardi Creative Media featuring HD Post

Biscardi Creative Media

Creative Cow Forum Host:
Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.

Read my Blog!

Twitter!


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Mike Cohen
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 5:38:00 pm

Rather than thinking of ways around the rules, think of some creative ways to help viewers make the connection. For example:

"Heading to the big game this weekend? Be sure to stop by Family Ford on Route 1 in Foxboro."

or

"Show your team spirit in Foxboro and your American spirit by checking out the latest Ford models in our Fall clearance."

or

"It's football season in New England. And it's the season to save big in our October Madness sale. Tailgating is a blast with a new F-150. We'll even throw in the charcoal!"

you know, I could sure go for a hot dog...

Just some food for thought.

Mike


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walter biscardi
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 6:20:37 pm

Wow, those are all great. Need to hire you as a copy writer sometime!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
Credits include multiple Emmy, Telly, Aurora and Peabody Awards.
Owner, Biscardi Creative Media featuring HD Post

Biscardi Creative Media

Creative Cow Forum Host:
Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.

Read my Blog!

Twitter!


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Mike Cohen
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 6:46:23 pm

I guess those months at Dimension Media Services cable advertising paid off. And I thought all I learned was how to film shots of raw steaks for the weekly IGA donuts.



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walter biscardi
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 24, 2009 at 6:54:00 pm

[Mike Cohen] "And I thought all I learned was how to film shots of raw steaks for the weekly IGA donuts. "

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, steak donuts, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm with pink frosting........



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
Credits include multiple Emmy, Telly, Aurora and Peabody Awards.
Owner, Biscardi Creative Media featuring HD Post

Biscardi Creative Media

Creative Cow Forum Host:
Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.

Read my Blog!

Twitter!


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cowcowcowcowcow
Mark Suszko
Re: New Legal Question
on Sep 25, 2009 at 2:12:56 pm

Cohen has it right: you can waste thousands on executing a bad (lazy) idea, or you can fix it with a 10-cent pencil and 1-cent sheet of paper. People don't spend enough time on the creation of a good, well-thoguht-out script, before they go dashing off to make their "Magnum Dopus".


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