ESPN Speaks with Josh Gerben About the “PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY” Trademark Battle

On October 5, 2021, ESPN published an article discussing the phrase “Play Like A Champion Today,” which has been an integral part of both the Notre Dame and University of Oklahoma football programs.

ESPN spoke with Gerben Perrott founder Josh Gerben about how the University of Oklahoma could still use the “Play Like a Champion Today” phrase even though a group led by Rick Mirer and Lou Holtz now owns the trademark registration and is licensing it to the University of Notre Dame.  

“I think that if [this group] wanted to enforce the trademark against Oklahoma… they’d have a very difficult case and would not be very likely to succeed, given the length of history of Oklahoma’s use,” Gerben said. “I think there is a little bit of a misconception about trademarks, that if somebody owns a trademark to a phrase that they own the phrase. It doesn’t grant them the ownership of the phrase, in general.”

“You could have somebody that owns this [phrase] for golf towels and a wine brand and other things, and Oklahoma could still use this in their locker room and on T-shirts around campus, and those two uses can coexist legally,” Gerben said.

Source: Wilson, Dave. “Notre Dame, Oklahoma and the battle over ‘Play Like A Champion Today.’” 5 October 2021.

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