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The Blue Turf of Boise State: On “Service” Dress and the Creation of Source Identification

Blog - Protecting the Product
James Aquilina

As we’ve written about in prior posts, it’s possible under U.S. trademark law for distinctive visual element(s) to become a trademark, i.e., an identifier of source for a particular party’s goods or services.

For the college football fans among our readership, one well-known example is the distinctive blue turf of Albertsons Stadium (a/k/a “THE BLUE”), on which the Boise State Broncos play their home games:

What is no doubt far less appreciated by this group is that this blue field color is actually a registered U.S. trademark, No. 3707623, for “the color blue used on the artificial turf in the stadium” in connection with “Entertainment services, namely, the presentation of intercollegiate sporting events and sports exhibitions rendered in a stadium, and through the media of radio and television broadcasts and the global communications network”. 

Boise State’s trademark is a great example of what this author has referred to in the past as “service” dress, i.e., trademark rights developed in relation to a service that is rendered in connection with a distinctive, repeating visual element(s).  Like all trademark rights, if used exclusively in perpetuity there is no expiration date on trademark protection for unique visual elements, making it the pinnacle of IP rights protection available to businesses. 

The Quarles design rights legal team is nationally-recognized for its extensive knowledge and practice experience in this complex and important field. For questions about this article or on how to incorporate design-related legal rights into your intellectual property portfolio, please contact the author(s) of this post directly or send a message to the team via our Contact page. To subscribe to our mailing list and receive updates that highlight issues currently affecting the design rights legal field, click here.

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