Monday, August 28, 2017

FIFA Files Application to Register "USA 2026" as Trademark

According to FIFA's website, the bidding process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup is just beginning, but two expressions of interest in hosting the event have been submitted: (1) a joint expression by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, and (2) by Morocco. Regardless, on August 23rd the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) filed a federal trademark application for the phrase USA 2026 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The application covers a wide variety of goods and services you might expect to be marketed in conjunction with the World Cup, including:
  • Entertainment services provided at or relating to sports events (Class 41);
  • Providing provision of entertainment infrastructures, namely, VIP lounges and sky boxes both on and off site sports facilities for entertainment purposes (Class 41);
  • Games and playthings (Class 28);
  • Promotion of sports events in the domain of football (Class 35);
  • Wide variety of clothing items (footwear, headgear, shirts, jerseys, sweatshirts, etc.) (Class 25);
  • Jewelry, necklaces, bracelets, team and player trading pins (Class 14);
  • Pens, pencils, photograph albums, autograph books (Class 16); and
  • Holograms (Class 9).
FIFA filed this trademark application on an intent-to-use basis, which suggest it is not using this trademark in commerce yet (makes sense), but does mean it submitted with the application a verified statement that it has a bona fide intention to use this mark in commerce. See TMEP 1101; 15 USC 1051(b)(3)(B). Before this application can mature into a trademark registration, FIFA must start using the mark in U.S. commerce and submit sufficient proof of the same to the USPTO. TMEP 1103; 15 USC 1051(d).

So does this application indicate the World Cup is coming to the United States in 2026? Not necessarily. Simply filing the application doesn't require FIFA to start using this trademark at some point in the future, only that it have a bona fide intention to do so at the time of filing (the bidding process or expression of interest from the United States might be enough). The intent-to-use filing basis essentially allows an applicant to "reserve" rights in a trademark, so long as they have a bona fide intent to use it, before actual use is made. If this application is approved by the USPTO (which can take anywhere from 9 - 18+ months, depending on the circumstances), FIFA can request extensions of up to three years before it is actually required to start using this mark (ed. - is that enough time to go through the bidding process for 2026?).

According to my quick search, this is the first trademark application related to the 2026 World Cup filed by FIFA in the United States.

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