A Trademark Win for Tebow

Ah, Tim Tebow. Your skills may be buried on the bench of the 3-4 New York Jets. You may have had precious little opportunity to craft one of those classic come-from-behind wins that made us all like you so much here in Colorado. But that said, you can still lay claim to one important personal victory this year: As of Oct. 9, you now own the trademark for Tebowing.
Tebowing, as you probably remember, took the country by storm in October and November last year, when everybody took a knee and bowed their head in apparent prayer in mimicry of the pious quarterback, then leading the (my) Denver Broncos. For Tebow, the prayer was quite sincere. For some others—well, it was fun.
You’d think that Tebowing, given the fact that it was popular several thousand Internet memes ago, would be a dead issue—the pose having gone the way of “planking” or “owling” or “spelunking” (I just made that last one up I think.) But the site that created the term (tebowing.com) is still alive and well (check out the site’s Top 10), and the name and pose are still immediately recognizable by most of us, even with poor Timmy riding the pine.
And as such, Tebow’s newly minted trademark has some folks a wee bit concerned. Writes Julia Goralka of The Washington Times:

If Tebow can trademark the pose of praying with his fist on his forehead, can the Catholic church trademark the “praying hands” pose? If Muslims trademark the traditional poses that coincide with their daily prayer obligations, the yoga instructor at your local gym may be in trouble. Is the term “Buddha belly” indicative of religious affiliation or beer consumption? Or in our case, just a chubby baby?

She kids. Sort of. But it is a provocative question. And it’s one I might be a bit more concerned about if the trademark was owned by Richard Dawkins or Hugh Hefner. Tebow says he didn’t buy the trademark to make money: He just wanted to make sure that the term and pose didn’t fall into the wrong hands. And indeed, a wayward Tebowing pose is indeed a terrible thing to behold.
And it’s not as if some off-kilter things haven’t been trademarked before in the world of sports. As The Christian Science Monitor reports, everything from “Linsanity” (popularized and owned by former New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin) to the phrase, “That’s a clown question, bro” (registered by Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper) have been trademarked. And then there’s my favorite: “Don’t fear the brow,” trademarked by the famously unibrowed center Anthony Davis. And even though I’ve just used all of those phrases in this very blog, I am not anticipating any royalties to Lin or Harper or Davis. Freedom of speech is still freedom of speech—as long as you’re not slapping slogans on sweatshirts and selling them for $40 a pop.
So for those who are inclined to do a little bit of Tebowing—for the cameras, or with your friends, or even if you do it in the privacy of your own home and simply call it “praying,” have no fear. I think you’re in the clear.

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