Washington Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III may be throwing an incomplete in his attempt to trademark the initials RG3.
The stakes could be pretty high since the QB’s jersey was the number one seller last season.
It turns out a motorcycle parts company already operates as RG3, which Griffin wants to put on jerseys and other apparel. Griffin is also seeking to trademark RGIII for the same reason.
Rob Henricksen owns Research Group 3, which is prominently known in the industry as RG3, and which supplies suspension parts and other services to professional and amateur bikers. RG3 has been in business since 1998 and filed preliminary paperwork with the US Trademark Office to reserve its right to oppose the QB’s trademark applications. The initials “RG3” appear on many of the firm’s products.
Research Group 3’s lawyer Catherine Holland indicated a desire to “work out a coexistence agreement … We just want to clearly delineate the rights that each party has with regard to the phrase RG3.”
If the two sides can’t arrive at a settlement of some sort, which might involve a royalty payment from RG3 the football player to RG3 the motorcycle parts company, they could wind up in full-blown legal case at the Trademark Office that would be equivalent to a trial.
The legal standard for such intellectual property matters is the “likelihood of consumer confusion.” A formal finding of that kind could result in Robert Griffin III being unable to trademark RG3 for his clothing line. “We don’t want to have any confusion in the marketplace, and we’re sure he doesn’t, either,” Holland explained. The attorney also disavowed any attempt to make money off of Griffin’s fame and added that the motorcycle company wishes him all the best.
ProFootballTalk argues that confusion among consumers is unlikely, however: “we can’t imagine anyone mixing up the two brands. Unless Griffin starts endorsing motorcycle suspension parts or RG3 comes out with a football-themed product line.”
In his rookie season, Robert Griffin III won Rookie of the Year Honors and was named to the Pro Bowl, and is obviously one of the NFL’s biggest stars. Griffin injured his knee in a Wild Card loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He is currently in rehab after surgery and is said to be way ahead of schedule.