UMBC files trademark application to celebrate historic upset in NCAA Tournament as 16-Seed

The 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament has certainly featured its fair share of March Madness leading up to the Final Four matchups taking place on Saturday, March 31st. Bracket predictions across the country have been busted since the Sweet 16 when, for the first time in history, none the top four seeded teams from a single region (South) made it to the third round. It’s featured an incredible run by Loyola-Chicago which defeated 9-seed Kansas State in the South Regional Final, the first time that an 11-seed and a 9-seed ever met in an Elite Eight game. Thanks to first-round upsets by the University at Buffalo and Marshall University, the 2018 tournament was also the first time in a decade that two 13-seeds advanced to the second round.

All of these upsets pale in comparison, however, to the historic victory achieved by 16-seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) over 1-seed University of Virginia. UMBC’s 74-54 victory over Virginia marked the first time NCAA men’s basketball tournament history that a 16-seed won in the opening round; 16-seeds had lost the previous 135 matchups, never advancing past the first round. With the UMBC Retrievers heading into that game as 20.5-point underdogs to Virginia, the game ranks as the second-greatest upset in NCAA tournament history since changing to a 64-team format.

Much less surprising than UMBC’s upset over Virginia were reports that UMBC had filed a series of trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, including one referencing the historic nature of the collegiate basketball team’s victory. UMBC has filed U.S. Trademark Application No. 87838422 which would protect the use of the standard character mark ’16 over 1′ for the sale of athletic apparel including footwear, hats and athletic uniforms. The university also filed U.S. Trademark Application No. 87838378, covering the standard character mark “RETRIEVER NATION”, and U.S. Trademark Application No. 87838377, covering the standard character mark “UMBC RETRIEVERS”. Each of these trademarks was filed on March 17th, one day after the UMBC Retrievers’ victory over the Virginia Cavaliers.

One reason why UMBC would file trademark applications following its win over Virginia is to provide the school with legal resources to dissuade anyone from selling counterfeit merchandise using the university’s name or mascot. According to a report from ESPN, UMBC’s school bookstore website sold twice the amount of university merchandise within 24 hours of its upset victory than it had sold during the entire year.

It’s not surprising to see an athletic organization move to file for trademarks in the wake of a historic victory. After becoming Super Bowl champions for the first time in franchise history, the Philadelphia Eagles filed a trademark application for “Philly Special”, a phrase referencing the touchdown pass thrown to quarterback Nick Foles on a fourth-and-goal late in the second quarter. Although they lost the NFC Championship Game to Philadelphia, the Minnesota Vikings filed trademark applications to protect both “Minneapolis Miracle” and “Minnesota Miracle” after those terms became synonymous with the final play of the Viking’s divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, a 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs to steal the victory.

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