As the NFL offseason wears on, the public is absolutely clamoring for as much RG3 as possible — and yes, we mean the quarterback.
Not the motorcycle parts company.
According to The Washington Post, Robert Griffin III is currently working on a trademarking solution with Research Group 3, an off-road motorcycle racing suspension parts business started in 1998.
“As Robert Griffin III transitioned from a promising college prospect into an established professional star, he took steps to protect his brand, filing paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the phrases “RGIII” and “RG3,” for use on “shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, pants, shorts, footwear, hats, caps, [and] athletic uniforms. …
“We’re maintaining the status quo until we can work out a coexistence agreement,” said Catherine Holland, a California-based intellectual property lawyer with Knobbe Martens who is representing the company. “We just want to clearly delineate the rights that each party has with regard to the phrase RG3.”
Research Group 3 has a very legit claim to the RG3 brand name. Back in 2009, one of the most famous extreme sports names in the world, Travis Pastrana, endorsed the company.
“It’s just been really good to have someone that can work with me and that doesn’t just say that’s impossible — that says okay, how do we make this possible?” Pastrana said in a 2009 video he made for the company. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s no one better in making whatever you want to do possible on a motorcycle.”
The separate trademarks of the same name would really only be an issue if the two start making the same products.
“The legal standard is whether there is a likelihood of consumer confusion,” said David Weslow, a partner at Wiley Rein (and lifelong Redskins fan). “If they could show that those two different versions are close enough, and that they used the mark commercially in association with products or services that are similar enough to RGIII’s products or services, then they could have seniority. They’d have to show that when consumers encounter those two different trademarks, they’d be likely to be confused between the two.”
For example, former Washington Redskins coach and Super Bowl champion Joe Gibbs is now the owner of Gibbs Racing, a NASCAR racing company. If he wanted to cross-promote and put an RG3 on a car part in celebration of his new ‘Skins’ passer, he would not be able to do so.
If that sounds far-fetched, it’s because it is, well, far fetched. There is expected to be some sort of agreement reached wherein both are able to used the “RG3″ or “RGIII” moniker.
The two sides could simply reach a coexistence agreement between themselves, with one or both sides agreeing to stay out of a particular line of products, or one side agreeing to pay a royalty to the other. Barring such an agreement, Research Group 3 could file a notice of opposition with the Trademark Office, which would then prompt an administrative litigation process at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
“We don’t want to have any confusion in the marketplace, and we’re sure he doesn’t either,” Holland said.
Let’s hope this doesn’t go too much further for either party. The last thing RGIII (the quarterback) wants is to have to deal with legal jargon while trying to rehab his surgically repaired knee.
As for the parts company, the last thing Research Group 3 wants to be known for is the company that sued the lovable RGIII for the use of the young man’s own name.