If you saw a urology clinic advertising a "Vasectomy Mayhem" spring special would you get confused and think the NCAA was associated with the promotion in an official capacity? The NCAA sure thinks it's possible.
The collegiate governing body filed a trademark cancellation request in February to stop a Virginia urology clinic's use of the "Vasectomy Mayhem" phrase. In its filing, the NCAA argues that the clinic's phrase is "confusingly similar" to "March Mayhem" and other trademarks that it currently holds.
“Registrant’s ‘Vasectomy Mayhem’ mark is confusingly similar to the NCAA marks and continued registration and use by registrant of ‘Vasectomy Mayhem’ with the registrant’s services is likely to result in confusion, mistake of deception with petitioner and/or the goods and services marketed in connection with the NCAA marks, or in the belief that registrant or its ‘Vasectomy Mayhem’ services are in some way legitimately connected with, or sponsored, licensed or approved by petitioner,” the NCAA wrote in its filing on Feb. 4.
The NCAA's filing includes screenshots from ads for the Virginia Urology Center for the spring promotion. In the ad, the clinic tells men that they can schedule a vasectomy for March so they can spend their recovery time watching basketball. The NCAA even takes issue with the use of a generic bracket in the ad.
You can read the NCAA's petition in full here and judge the veracity of the NCAA's claim yourself. We think you, dear reader, are too smart to see the phrase and the ad and think the NCAA is endorsing or officially associated with the clinic's promotion.
NCAA's myriad trademarks
The NCAA files trademarks for numerous NCAA tournament phrases so that it can make as much money as possible on the tournament. After all, the men's tournament is the biggest annual moneymaker for the governing body and schools across the country receive payouts from the money the NCAA makes on the tournament.
Close watchers of the NCAA tournament know just how seriously the NCAA takes its trademarks and official sponsorships. Media members who sit courtside at tournaments in pre-pandemic times have had to make sure their beverages were in sponsor-approved cups.
The NCAA cites trademarks for "March Madness" and "Munch Madness" in addition to its "March Mayhem" trademark. The filing states that the clinic's basketball associations are a clear capitalization on the NCAA's event. The NCAA also notes that the clinic had used "Vasectomy Madness" a decade ago and had "assigned its rights in Vasectomy Madness to NCAA and NCAA licensed the mark to [the clinic] to use in a proscribed manner for a limited period of time. That license has expired."
Now that the license has expired, the NCAA doesn't want the clinic doing something similar again. It says that the trademark should be canceled because the "use of Vasectomy Mayhem' in commerce in connection with the Registrant’s Services is likely to dilute the distinctive quality and reputation of the NCAA Marks."
The Virginia Urology Center has until March 16 to respond to the NCAA's filing and avoid the automatic cancellation of the mark.
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