Lincorporated? Lin Files to Trademark ‘Linsanity’
Basketball and media phenom Jeremy Lin filed last week to trademark the term Linsanity. The move, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, would give him exclusive rights to put the signature term on a variety of products, including clothing, mugs and even action figures.
The New York Knicks basketball star burst into public consciousness three weeks ago, an undrafted Asian-American Harvard graduate who went from benchwarmer to star pointguard and led the Knicks on a seven-game winning streak.
While the streak has come to an end, his stardom has not, making the term Linsanity one of the hottest in New York tabloids, sports networks and Twitter posts.
Lin is not the only one to file for a trademark on the name, but he stands a good chance of winning it, according to Gary Krugman, a Washington trademark attorney.
“Someone else can’t register a trademark if the term points uniquely to a person or institution,” Krugman said.
Krugman said even if someone tries to file for a trademark on some consumer product not specifically named in Lin’s application, there’s a good chance he would be able to block the competing application given the breadth of items in his own filing.
Lin merchandise has become some of the hottest items in the world of sports, though it’s so recent that hard sales figures are not yet available.
The National Basketball Association has trademarks on any item with the Knicks name or logo, such as a Knicks jersey with Lin’s No. 17 and his name on the back. Sales of the uniforms are shared between all NBA teams and the players’ union — they don’t benefit the individual player.
There are some forms of the shirt that have “Linsanity” across the back rather than Lin’s name. Krugman said any conflicts between trademarks would have to be hashed out between Lin’s representatives and the league, or by the patent office.
Lin’s popularity even brought an end to a nearly two-month stalemate between Madison Square Garden, owner of the Knicks and the sports network that airs its games locally, and Time Warner Cable, a major New York cable operator, which had kept Knicks games off the air.
The Linsanity craze isn’t limited to the United States. While Lin was born in California, his family’s roots in Taiwan have also made him very popular in China. And there are companies looking to cash in on that popularity.
Wuxi Risheng Sports Utility Co., a Chinese maker of soccer balls and basketballs, confirmed to CNN on Thursday that it applied for a Chinese trademark for both his English and Chinese name on products in 2010, the year Lin graduated from Harvard but long before he became a star here.
One of the partners in the firm said they did not expect Lin to become a sudden hit, but that they feel “very lucky and happy” for his success. They are now making basketballs with his name on them and are considering making clothing as well.