A week and a half go, Colin Kaepernick put together an historic rushing effort against the Green Bay Packers, scampering for 181 yards in the 49ers divisional round blowout. There was a lot of talk after that game about whether the ensuing media attention might get to Kaepernick, but as we have learned, he is so focused on football that it seems outside concerns are fairly limited at this point.
Fortunately for Kaepernick, he has a responsible team managing him and his brand. We've known Kaepernick is talented for some time now. The Packers game provided the kind of breakout performance on a national level that can lead to serious endorsement and marketing dollars.
An attorney for Kaepernick has begun the process of protecting some of those opportunities. Trademark attorney Erik Pelton wrote in his legal blog that an attorney for Kaepernick has filed six trademark applications with the US Patent & Trademark Office. These marks are Colin Kaepernick, Kaepernick CK7, Kap7, Kap, Kaepernick7, and Kaepernicking.
We already saw Robert Griffin III jump on this early in the season, and it is not surprise Kaepernick's team is taking care of business as soon as possible. Kaepernick remains on his rookie contract, and while the big contract bucks are just around the corner, there are early opportunities to cash in on his meteoric rise. Beyond that, this provides an opportunity for Kap to protect his brand, which can be quickly devalued by random merchandise flying around on the market.
The USPTO provides a very clear picture of the trademark application process. Part of the reason for this is so people can search to see if a given mark is trademarked. If a mark is not trademarked, there is the potential for anybody to grab it and use it for their own benefit.
When someone files a trademark application, it is not simply a matter of providing the mark and saying you want to trademark it. You have to specify usage categories, and you cannot register generic marks or descriptive marks that have not attained secondary meaning.
Once an application is submitted, there is a review process that includes a publication for opposition. This is a 30-day period in which third-parties who might be affected by the trademark can come forward and file an opposition. This would then send it to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
The application process requires what the mark will be used for in terms of goods and services. For the above marks, Kaepernick's attorney stated the following:
1. Colin Kaepernick: Clothing, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, jerseys
2. Kaepernick CK7: Clothing, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, jerseys
3. Kap7: Clothing, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, jerseys
4. Kap: Clothing, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, jerseys
5. Kaepernick7: Clothing, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, jerseys
6. Kaepernicking: Clothing, namely, shirts
So, if you have any intention of selling Colin Kaepernick gear on the side, it is safe to say these options will soon be trademarked and off limits. Kap's attorney can thank me later for saving him some time on lawsuits.