Avoid 'March Madness' Legal Action from NCAA
For college basketball fans, March is one of the best months of the year, as the NCAA Tournament is set to take place. Some fans fill out their brackets, while others boycott because their team wasn't selected. Some business owners or marketers might see the March Madness hype as an advertising tool for their business—but they should be careful, unless they want a letter from the NCAA.
Just like the Super Bowl, "March Madness" is a federally trademarked term. And according to the National Law Review, any use of "March Madness" by itself or along with other words or terms in a commercial promotion—including games, product advertisements, third-party events or sales will result in legal action from the NCAA.
In January and February, many commercials and TV shows referred to the Super Bowl as "The Big Game." That's because they were not legally allowed to use the term "Super Bowl." Stephen Colbert worked around this law by using the term "Superb Owl" on the Colbert Report.
As "March Madness" is a federally registered trademark, the NCAA has exclusive rights to use it, and prohibits any outside use of the term that might suggest affiliation, sponsorship, licensed status or any connection to the NCAA whatsoever.
So although the prospect of using the instantly recognizable and catchy term "March Madness" in a promotion, suppliers and distributors should be careful to avoid it, lest they face legal action from the NCAA.