It is no secret that athletes can be an inspiration to people. Millions of fans watch their favorite sports, often spending outrageous money to see certain players perform in person. The average New York fan who, in childhood, tried Little League, high school football or dance lessons knows the physical and mental sacrifices that must be made to excel in a sport. This may be why fans appreciate the inspirational quotes and proverbs an athlete may come up with. For Lebron James, these quotes become part of his intellectual property.
In fact, James, who plays basketball for the NBA Cavaliers, started his own LLC called LBJ Trademarks. Through this company, James legally protects slogans, words or phrases for use on various products. For example, the saying, "Nothing is Given. Everything is Earned," is a recent addition to James' 30 or more registered trademarks, which he may use on T-shirts, posters or other products.
Lebron James does not have to invent the phrase to trademark it. As long as the words are not too close to those that someone else is using to promote a product or service, James can protect them through the trademark process. Similarly, a word or phrase cannot simply describe a product or service, although he may adopt words the way Apple and Caterpillar have for their brands.
In New York, creative people may have similar ideas for sayings or slogans that they want to protect for use in their own brand. To better understand the nuances of trademark law, they may wish to consult an attorney. Such an attorney can guide them in the best way to protect their intellectual property.
Source: Forbes, "What Can Lebron James Teach Us About Trademark Law?", Jess Collen, Nov. 1, 2017