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Opening Arguments

Thrown for a loss

If you don't have the resources to fight back, it's easy to be bullied, and the NFL certainly knows how to do it:

ANDERSON, Ind. — Roy Fox, an entrepeneural Indianapolis Colts fan, says he was sacked by the National Football League before he could even test the market for his "Harbowl" T-shirts, hats and other merchandise..

He applied for the unclaimed trademark last February in the likelihood San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh would face off against his older brother, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, in this year's Super Bowl.

But public notice of the application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office brought a series of objections from the NFL on the ground "Harbowl" could be confused with the the league's Super Bowl trademark.

The NFL threatened legal action if Fox didn't abandon his application -- a warning that eventually caused him to do just that three months before the Harbaugh brothers' Super Bowl matchup became a certainty.

I don't know why this bugs me so much, but it does. Maybe it's because the guy showed such remarkable foresight to think of this way back when nobody else even considered the possibility. Such initiative should be rewarded, not jumped on by fat corporate thugs. In its initial letter, the NFL said because its mark and the appplied-for mark are similar, that might cause the public "to mistakenly believe that your goods and/or services are authoriized or sponsored by or are somehow affiliated with the NFL," the most blatant piece of crockery you're likely to see this week.