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NCAA initiates trademark lawsuit over use of the term “April Madness”

Recently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) filed a trademark infringement lawsuit over the use of the term “April Madness” by an online fantasy game.[1] The Defendants are alleged to market and provide online games which award prizes for predicting the results of sporting events, including college basketball games played during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament, also known as “March Madness.”[2] The NCAA’s Complaint alleges that Defendants have been using the terms “Final 3” and “April Madness” to brand college basketball online fantasy games.[3] The NCAA has asserted that such use is without the permission of the NCAA, who owns various trademarks incorporating the terms FINAL FOUR and MARCH MADNESS.[4] The Complaint seeks injunctive relief due to the NCAA’s concern over Defendants’ perceived plan to offer online fantasy games, through Defendants’ website and mobile telephone applications, during the March Madness tournament, which is currently scheduled to begin on March 14, 2017.[5] The Defendants filed trademark applications for use of the terms “Final 3” and “April Madness.”[6]

The Complaint asserts causes of action for Federal Trademark Infringement, Trademark Dilution, and Common Law Unfair Competition.[7] The NCAA further alleges in its Complaint that Defendants alleged infringement was willful because the NCAA had previously objected to Defendants’ use of the term “Final 3” in 2015.[8] The NCAA is seeking an injunction to prevent Defendants’ use of the terms “Final 3” and “April Madness,” refusal of Defendant’s trademark applications for the same, and for actual damages, profits, exemplary damages and attorneys’ fees.[9] On March 9, 2017, the NCAA filed a motion requesting that the Court enter a preliminary injunction to immediately stop Defendants’ use of the terms “Final 3” and “April Madness.”[10]

The NCAA having to deal with businesses trying to profit off the March Madness tournament is not uncommon. Considering that the March Madness tournament begins in March 14, 2017, an immediate resolution of this case is likely. We will be monitoring the status of this case. Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the information in this article.

Daniel Devine, Esq.
Santucci Priore, P.L.
Partner

[1] See, National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Kizzang LLC and Robert Alexander, Case No. 17-cv-00712-LJM-MPB, at Docket Entry No. 1 (Mar. 8, 2017).
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] Id.
[10] See, National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Kizzang LLC and Robert Alexander, Case No. 17-cv-00712-LJM-MPB, at Docket Entry No. 6 (Mar. 9, 2017).