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Blue in Boise

The Boise State Broncos football team is unbeaten this year and ranked in the top 10.  But the university scored off the field the other day:  Broncos 1, the rest of the sporting world zero.

What’s the big win?  Boise State received a trademark registration for the color blue 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.”  In short, Boise State plays on a blue football field, and it wants to be sure that it plays on the only blue football field in the United States.  Boise State’s colors are blue and orange.

Check out Registration No. 3707623, issued on November 10, 2009.

I learned about this from a student in my Trademark Law class, who advised me that Boise State has already enforced its mark against the University of New Haven.  UNH restored its football program this year after a five-year hiatus, and because the school colors are blue and gold,  it built a blue field (with gold trim).  Boise State objected.  UNH was poised to oppose Boise State’s application to register the mark.  The two universities either now have a licensing deal in place, or will shortly.  The New Haven Register summarizes.

Curiously, Boise State’s blue-and-orange color scheme mimics the color scheme used by another set of Broncos – Denver – from 1968 to 1996.  To my knowledge, however, Denver never played on a blue field.

Updated 12/4: From the comments, I take note of the fact that BSU’s “The Blue” isn’t the only blue turf football field in the US. High schools in Barrow, Alaska; Hidalgo, Texas; and Lovington, New Mexico also play on blue fields. It might be said that BSU has been generous in not objecting to those fields, as it objected to UNH, but it also might be said that the number of blue football fields casts doubt on BSU’s claim that its use of blue is distinctive.