Are you going to a Big Game party on Sunday? Or perhaps going to watch the pro football championship game? Or take in the majestic splendor of the Superb Owl? You can also just call it by its real name: the Super Bowl.
The NFL is infamous for coming down like a ton of bricks on anyone who dares use the actual name for the game in public. And it's also famous for trying to grab control of the names people started using when the NFL’s tactics worked and scared everyone away from saying “Super Bowl.” No matter how hard the NFL tries, it doesn’t own the phrase “The Big Game,” which has been used for longer than there’s been a Super Bowl. But anything that looks like someone making money off of the name will attract the NFL’s attention. In 2007, the NFL put a stop to an Indiana church’s party for a number of reasons, including that the church promoted it as a “Super Bowl bash.”
The NFL has trademarked the terms “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday,” but that doesn’t mean it actually controls all rights to the phrase. Instinctually, we all know that can’t be how the law works. We see and use trademarked names for things all the time. Grocery stores advertise special deals on Coca-Cola and we put “Windex” on our grocery lists. Commercials namecheck competitors by name all the time.