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Trademark register your sports nickname for name, image and likeness deals!

Posted by Steve Vondran | Feb 04, 2024

Vondran Legal® Sports Law - Trademarks for Athletes - NIL Sports Marketing Attorney cal (877) 276-5084.

IP Sports Lawyer


Welcome to Vondran Legal® Sports Law, where we specialize in providing legal services for athletes. One important aspect of being a successful athlete is protecting your brand and image through trademark registration. In this article, we will discuss the importance of trademarks for athletes and how our firm can assist you in securing your trademark rights.

Why Trademarks Matter for Athletes

As an athlete, you are not just a person who plays sports. You are also a brand with a unique identity that sets you apart from other athletes. Your name, logo, and slogans often become associated with your performance, accomplishments, and overall reputation. That is why it is crucial to protect these elements through trademark registration.  Trademarks provide legal protection against others using your brand or likeness and this can be an important factor that may help lure in lucrative sports marketing deals from brands that are in love with your brand (stage name) and who want to hire you to promote their goods and services on television, print media, social media and elsewhere.

Trademark Register your Sports Nickname

Many famous athletes have trademarked their sports nicknames.  The list is long and includes such popular athletes as:

Basketball players

-Michael Jordan (Air Jordan)

Air Jordan trademark

-LeBron James (King James)

Lebron James King James federal trademark

-Shaquille O'Neal (Shaq)

Shaquile O' Neil trademark for Shaq

-Kobe Bryant (Black Mamba)

Kobe Bryant Black Mamba Trademark

Golf stars with federally registered nickname

-Tiger Woods (Tiger Woods)

Tiger Woods golfer trademark

Even college athletes have gone so far as to trademark their popular athlete names, this list includes:

-Joe Burrow (Burreaux)

John Burreaux

-Johnny Manziel (Johnny Football)

Johnny Football Trademark


-Tom Brady - TB12

Tom Brady TB12 trademark

There are many baseball players who have trademark registered their sports nickname including:

Hank Aaron - (Hammerin Hank)

hank aaron hammerin hank trademark

Willie Mays (Say Hey)

Willie Mays Say Hey Trademark

Female athletes that have trademarked their sports names include both basketball, softball, golf and track, tennis and field athletes such as:

-Serena Williams (Serena)

Serena williams trademark

-Jenny Finch (Finch) Mizzuno

Finch softball brand Mizzuno

Why get Trademark protection?

These athlete trademarks not only protect the individual's identity and brand, but also serve as a source of revenue through merchandise sales or licensing deals.

In addition to athlete names, there are also trademarked sports logos such as Nike's iconic swoosh and the NFL's shield logo. These trademarks ensure that no other company or organization can use these recognizable symbols without permission.  Overall, trademarking in the world of sports is becoming increasingly common and important for athletes to establish and protect their personal brands. It goes beyond just a name or logo, but encompasses an entire image and reputation that has been built through the athletes hard work, skill, talent, and ingenuity.

Not only do these athletes use their nicknames on the field or court, but they also use them to promote their goods and services off the field. This includes everything from apparel and merchandise (usually hats, t-shorts, jackets) to food and drinks and other goods.  Trademarking a sports nickname not only protects the athlete's brand and image, but it also allows them to have control over how it is used commercially. It prevents others from using their nickname without permission, which can lead to confusion for consumers and potentially harm the athletes reputation.

In recent years, social media has played a big role in promoting an athlete's personal brand. By trademarking your sports name, this can be used in social media marketing, or used in creative ways on good or services to help promote a brand deal on the internet, or off.  As a professional athlete, your name and image is often what sets you apart from others in the industry. Your nickname can become synonymous with your brand and can be worth millions in endorsements and advertising deals. By registering your sports nickname as a trademark, you are ensuring that only you have the right to use it for commercial purposes. This means that other companies cannot capitalize on your hard-earned reputation and success by using your nickname without permission.


1. Brand Protection

Your sports nickname is a valuable part of your personal brand. It sets you apart from other athletes and helps create a unique identity for yourself in the sports world. By registering your nickname as a trademark, you can prevent others from using it without your permission. This not only protects your reputation and image but also ensures that any endorsements or sponsorship deals you have are not being undermined by copycats, competitors, or other unauthorized use of your nickname.

2. Legal Rights

Trademark registration gives you exclusive rights to use your sports nickname in connection with the goods or services listed on your trademark application. This means that no one else can legally use your nickname for commercial purposes, whether it be on merchandise or in advertising. If someone does try to use your nickname without permission, you have legal grounds to take action and protect your rights including sending a cease-and-desist letter or filing a federal copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court.

3. Increased Value

Having a registered trademark adds value to your personal brand and can potentially increase its worth. By protecting your sports nickname, you are showing potential sponsors or companies that you take yourself seriously as a professional athlete and are willing to invest in protecting your name. This can make you a more attractive prospect for endorsement deals and other partnerships, ultimately increasing your earning potential.  It is many times easier to remember a name of a famous athlete than it is the name of a product.

Additionally, registering your sports nickname can also make it more valuable to others who may be interested in licensing or using it. This could lead to opportunities for collaborations or partnerships with other athletes or companies, further boosting the value of your personal brand.

4. Potential for Worldwide Protection

Another major advantage of registering your sports nickname as a trademark is that it provides protection on a global scale. Once your trademark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you have the right to use and enforce it in all 50 states. Additionally, if you plan on expanding your career internationally, having a registered trademark can provide protection in other countries where you may compete or do business.

5. Protecting Your Legacy

Lastly, registering your sports nickname as a trademark can help protect your legacy and ensure that it continues to be associated with you even after you retire from the sport. This will prevent others from using your nickname in a way that tarnishes your image or reputation.

Overall, while it may seem like a small detail, registering your sports nickname as a trademark can have many benefits and provide valuable protection for your personal brand. So don't wait any longer, take the necessary steps to register your trademark today! Remember, taking action now can save you time, money, and headaches in the future.  And with Vondran Legal's experienced attorney, you can rest assured that your trademark registration process will be handled efficiently and effectively.

Contact us now to learn more about how we can help you protect your sports nickname and personal brand.

Contact a California Sports & IP Lawyer

If you need legal counseling from a former professional athlete like Attorney Steve Vondran, Esq. (Fresno State Baseball Hall of Fame and former Cincinnati Reds catcher), call us at (877) 276-5084 or leave us a message through our contact form.  We can help with sports contracts, social media influencer and NIL sports marketing deals, merchandise and celebrity image marketing (Right of Publicity) and related sports law legal matters.

About the Author

Steve Vondran

Thank you for viewing our blogs, videos and podcasts. As noted, all information on this website is Attorney Advertising. Decisions to hire an attorney should never be based on advertising alone. Any past results discussed herein do not guarantee or predict any future results. All blogs are written by Steve Vondran, Esq. unless otherwise indicated. Our firm handles a wide variety of intellectual property and entertainment law cases from music and video law, Youtube disputes, DMCA litigation, copyright infringement cases involving software licensing disputes (ex. BSA, SIIA, Siemens, Autodesk, Vero, CNC, VB Conversion and others), torrent internet file-sharing (Strike 3 and Malibu Media), California right of publicity, TV Signal Piracy, and many other types of IP, piracy, technology, and social media disputes. Call us at (877) 276-5084. AZ Bar Lic. #025911 CA. Bar Lic. #232337

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