SBD/May 11, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

NCAA Paid Intersport $17M For Sole Ownership Of "March Madness" Trademark

The NCAA in October "paid $17.2 million to sports and entertainment marketer Intersport to stop using the term 'March Madness,' which has been attached to the NCAA's Division I men's basketball tournament since the 1980s," according to Steve Wieberg of USA TODAY. The settlement gives the NCAA "sole ownership of a trademark that has been the subject of several legal disputes and challenges over the years." Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said, "Long term, protecting the vitality of that asset ... I think it's a good investment." Wieberg noted Intersport "took out the original trademark more than two decades ago but reached an agreement" with the Illinois High School Association in the early '90s in which it "accepted a limited license to the phrase in exchange for a share of royalties." Intersport was most recently using "March Madness" in "programming for mobile devices." The NCAA deemed that "detrimental to the trademark" (USA TODAY, 5/11).
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