The term March Madness is hitting a little too close to home for the Glenview Park District this year in the Goliath battle to save its trademark slogan “Experience It” from being used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Last week, the Park District’s attorney Ronald Y. Rothstein, of Winston & Strawn LLP, filed a formal opposition with the appeal board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office against the NCAA. In it, he states that the organization’s application to trademark the tagline “Experience It Live” for its sporting events is too similar to the “Experience It” phrase Glenview has used for like-minded entertainment and recreational services since 2008. That list includes goods and services at the Park Center, Glenview Park Golf Club, Glenview Ice Center, Glenview Tennis Club, Roosevelt and Flick Pools, and the Great Parks, which include ball fields, tennis and sports courts, and skate parks.
The infringement first came to the attention of Glenview officials last fall after the NCAA first received a rejection for its “Experience It Live” application from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on April 3, 2014 and again on November 6, 2014, “because the U.S.P.T.O. believed the mark was confusingly similar to the Glenview Park District’s federally registered trademark,” said Rothstein. “The NCAA then brought this to the Glenview Park District’s attention.”
He further stated that the Glenview Park District’s goal is to work cooperatively with the NCAA to come up with a solution. “[We hope to prevent federal registration by the NCAA; the Park District is open, however, to a fair and mutually beneficial [outcome].”
Attempts to settle have been unsuccessful to date, which comes as a shock to Rothstein. “Given the NCAA’s experience with protecting its own brands, it is surprising that [they] would seek to register a mark that so closely resembles the Glenview Park District’s valuable brand,” he said, referencing the collegiate organization’s own aggressive brand policing over trademarks such as “March Madness,” “Elite Eight,” and “Final Four.”
The NCAA has thirty days to respond.