Steelers Endorse Ravensthal Re-Election Bid???

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl claims that he is temporarily changing his name to "Steelerstahl" to avoid an unwanted association with Sunday's playoff opponent, the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers (trademarked) logo now appears on the door to the Mayor's Office.

A reasonable person might infer that the Mayor is borrowing the massive popularity of the team in order to burnish his own image as a mayoral primary looms. That reasonable person might even conclude that the team has endorsed his candidacy outright.

So far as I know, the Steelers have not endorsed Mayor Luke. Nor does the Mayor claim that the team supports him.

But confusion is in the mind of the consumer. As someone who teaches and studies trademark law from time to time, I wonder whether the Mayor is just having some fun (fiddling while Rome burns, some critics might argue), or is crossing into territory patrolled by the NFL. Come playoff time, the National Football League and its franchises frown even more intensely than usual on appropriation of team colors, names, and trademarks by private interests not formally affiliated with or approved by the league.


2 Responses to "Steelers Endorse Ravensthal Re-Election Bid???"

Matt H said... 1/15/2009 8:46 PM

I don't think he is crossing into any NFL patrol area.

He didn't even legally change the name.

Mike Madison said... 1/15/2009 9:02 PM

Legally changing it wouldn't matter. He's using the new name.

If the Mayor came to blows with the NFL he'd probably win -- probably -- on the ground that his using the name isn't "commercial." Politicians aren't in the business of making money based on their notoriety.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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