There are a lot of reasons the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. Nick Foles was perfect, the offense was humming, and the defense got vital stops when they counted the most. But if you could whittle down the entire Eagles Super Bowl to just one thing, it would be the gutsy, majestic Philly Special play. The day after the Eagles won, people were already getting tattoos of that now-famous trick play formation. And just a few weeks after the play was run on the field, the Eagles want to own the name of the play itself.
According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, on Thursday the Eagles filed a trademark for the phrase “Philly Special,” to use “mostly on apparel.” The team has already sold shirts with the phrase, but are seeking the exclusive rights to use it.
The team may have filed a trademark to use on apparel, but it’s clearly going to be used on a lot more. In the NFL.com shop, there are already framed collages and autographed photos of the play which feature Trey Burton, who threw the ball during the play, and Foles, who caught it for a touchdown. None of those items use the phrase “Philly Special,” but it’s obvious that any related merchandise is going to be popular in Philadelphia for a long, long, long time.
The Eagles weren’t the first to have the trademark idea. They’re in line behind eight other groups, including people from various states and the Pennsylvania brewing company Yuengling. The Eagles have a slight advantage, though. They’ve already used the phrase (everyone else is filing for “intent to use”), and, well, they’re the ones who created the play and ran it on the field.
The trademark process isn’t a speedy one. Rovell talked to trademark lawyer Josh Gerben, who said that it can be a yearlong process. It will take up to four months for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to go through all the filings from different entities, and an additional eight months to decide who the trademark should be awarded to.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if the Eagles win the rights to the trademark, or if the phrase stays in the public domain. The play will be in the hearts (and tattooed on the arms) of many Eagles fans for decades to come, regardless of whether they can buy an official shirt emblazoned with the phrase.
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