In recent years, many highly-recognized professional athletes have been waking up to the benefits of obtaining federal trademark registration for personal slogans or other coined phrases which have gone on to become viral in their use. A 2012 article published by ESPN.com identifies Jeremy Lin, Tim Tebow, Robert Griffin III and Vince Young as a few well-known professional athletes who have filed applications to register trademarks for building their own personal brands. Back in August 2015, the Associated Press reported on college athletes who had filed for federal trademark registration, including now-NFL teammates Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. This trend in trademark registration among sports personalities isn’t all that new, as Pat Riley is noted for having registered a trademark in 1989 for the use of the phrase “three-peat” on T-shirts, hats and jackets, a phrase referencing the rare feat of a team winning its respective sports championship three years in a row.
One of the newest additions to this list of athlete trademark owners is basketball player Joel Embiid, a center playing for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. The Cameroon-born young star, selected third overall in the 2014 NBA Draft now playing after two seasons lost to injury, is known by the nickname “The Process.” The moniker is a reference to the team building plan for the 76ers in recent years, one which largely hinges on Embiid’s success and has required fans to wait patiently for the team’s playoff prospects to return.
In recent weeks, Joel Embiid has filed two trademark registration applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, both of which would protect standard character marks for “THE PROCESS”. U.S. Trademark Application No. 87219513, filed on October 28th, would protect the use of “THE PROCESS” on cell phone cases and apparel such as shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, shorts, hats and flip flops. U.S. Trademark Application No. 87228057, filed November 7th, would protect the use of the same standard character mark on rubber bracelets, children’s books and non-alcoholic beverages such as pre-bottled Shirley Temple drinks. The trademarks list Embiid as the owner and they appear to have been filed on behalf of Embiid by his agency CAA Sports.
Embiid’s decision to trademark “THE PROCESS” for use on pre-bottled Shirley Temple drink packaging displays both an interesting business acumen as well as an ability to turn lemons into lemonade. Embiid’s preference for the ginger ale-and-grenadine cocktail is well known and he actually has been criticized by some sports media outlets for drinking as much as a pitcher of Shirley Temple drink per day while recovering from injury.
Nowadays, Embiid is getting the chance to prove his worth to the 76ers franchise, earning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors in November. It’s not hard to see Embiid becoming a successful brand as well as a basketball player, given the popularity of his social media presence online.