Tiger Woods is opening a new restaurant near his Florida home, to be called The Woods Jupiter: Sports and Dining Club. However, the $8 million, 8,000-square-foot restaurant may not easily stand out as belonging to Woods.
The restaurant's developer told Golf.com's Michael Bamberger that Woods doesn't have the rights to slap his own name on the eatery. Nicholas A. Mastroianni II said it is, in fact, Nike that owns the trademark to use Woods' full name. As it turns out, Mastroianni isn't right.
But the topic inspired us to take a little cyber trip to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to figure out the active trademarks using Woods' name.
As it turns out, there are 45 records in the USPTO's database that use Woods' full name or mention him in some way. Of those records, just 22 are considered "live," meaning that someone still owns them and they're still being used.
Now, here's where it gets interesting, or not.
(If you don't care about intellectual property, just skip down a few paragraphs to see the neat stuff.)
When you file for a trademark -- which can be a word mark, drawing or both -- you have to make the application declaring how said mark will be used in commerce. That could mean at a restaurant, in industry, on stationary, as a logo and so forth. The USPTO also requires applicants to pay a fee for each category in which it intends to use a trademark. Folks can't simply own a trademark in every single category by default because the USPTO realizes there could be similarly named trademarks used in very different industries or for unique reasons.
That meant for Tiger Woods, or anyone else seeking a trademark using his name, that they had to pick and choose how they anticipated those trademarks would be used. And that means it's a window into how Woods and others thought they could profit off his name.
Woods -- well, more specifically, ETW Corp and a Swiss company Tiger Woods Enterprises S.A., two of Woods' three corporations -- owns the trademark on things that make sense and that he uses to make money: his own autograph, his name in video games, his website and when his name is used in conjunction with personal or professional appearances.
ETW Corp. first filed to trademark Woods' name on Oct. 4, 1996 in several categories: plaques, golf clothes and golf equipment/accessories. Then, the week before the 1997 Masters, Woods' company filed for a trademark case using his name on watches. They let one version go and replaced it with another that's still live, which more or less corresponds with Woods' leaving Rolex for Tag Heuer in 2002.
Naturally, Woods controls his TW logo in pretty much every expected use case, including on drinks. There's also a logo of Woods' famous fist pump that Woods owns. And then there's the first Tiger Woods Foundation logo, which makes education frightening, not accessible.
Remember those Accenture ads, pre-hydrant, that had the tag line "We know what it takes to be a Tiger"? Woods owns that trademark in every which way Accenture used it.
However, not every trademark registered by Woods' companies is still active -- and for good reason.
In 2001, Team Tiger abandoned a trademark for Tiger Woods-branded "insect repellent and medicated skin care preparation." A few months prior in 2000, Woods let go of trademarks for men's products, including foot powder and toothpaste. He let go of the rights to Tiger Slam in 2010.
As for his name on a restaurant? He once had that covered, with a trademark protecting his name in the category of "Providing food and drink; providing temporary accommodation; hotels; fast-food restaurants; cafés." However, that's since been canceled, perhaps sold to Nike.
While Woods has very smartly secured the use of his name, autograph and likeness, others have tried to piggyback on his name over the years with very little success.
For example, there were four trademark applications filed in 1995-96 on the term "Tiger Woods" to use for golf clubs, apparel and other game-related items -- not named after the then-amateur golfer, but like the animal. None were made by Woods.
Titleist's parent company, Acushnet, owned a trademark on Woods' likeness for a while. Filed in Sept. 1997 and abandoned 35 months later, Acushnet was thinking of its own Woods logo to put on all kinds of Titleist things.
And then there's some wise-guy South African owns the trademark on the term "Tiger's Wood." You own that, buddy.
It had been a while since Woods' corporations had filed for a trademark, but it did at the end of 2014. As part of a new deal with headphone-maker Sol Republic, Woods owns the trademark to use his name on them. Smart man.