NBA Players Scramble To Trademark Catchphrases

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June 26 2012 8:37 AM

NBA Players Scramble To Trademark Catchphrases

I'll say it: Fear the brow!

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages

Trademarks are like the funny little brothers of intellectual property law, less disastrously run-amok than patents and copyrights but considerably sillier. Thus consensus No. 1 NBA draft pick Anthony Davis has already taken out protection on a number of unibrow-related catchphrases:

Davis told CNBC that he trademarked the phrases “Fear The Brow” and “Raise The Brow” earlier this month. “I don’t want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it,” Davis told CNBC. “Me and my family decided to trademark it because it’s very unique.”

Of course having a unibrow is not, in fact, unique; it's just somewhat unusual. Meanwhile, it turns out that five games into his remarkable run last season, the D.C. law firm Arent Fox swooped in to help Jeremy Lin trademark the phrase Linsanity.

Athletes generally have short careers, are treated poorly by the tax system, and are ruthlessly exploited by employer cartels that society wouldn't tolerate in any other context, so it's difficult for me not to sympathize with these kind of income-maximization tactics. But as ever in this kind of case, I think the implications for human freedom of restricting who is and isn't allowed to put the phrase "Fear the Brow" on a T-shirt aren't good.


Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


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