Gabby Douglas and her four U.S. women’s gymnastics gold-medal teammates will need some help from a former National Basketball Association player before they can cash in on a “Fab Five” nickname.
Jalen Rose, a member of the University of Michigan’s “Fab Five” basketball team of 1991, was granted the trademark for the term last year, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.
For the last week the phrase -- as well as the moniker “Fierce Five” -- has been associated with the gymnasts who won the team gold medal at the London Olympics and are preparing for an endorsement windfall.
“If you’re Jalen Rose, you’ve got a real opportunity here,” said attorney Pamela M. Deese, a partner at the Washington law firm Arent Fox who assisted NBA player Jeremy Lin with his “Linsanity” trademark. “It makes sense for him to approach the women’s gymnastics people.”
Rose was a member of Michigan’s freshman class that included fellow NBA players Chris Webber and Juwan Howard, as well as Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. The group reached the men’s college basketball championship game as freshmen and sophomores, losing both times. ESPN made a documentary about the basketball team called “Fab Five.”
A Google search of the term “Fab Five gymnastics” yields almost 1.6 million results.
The 39-year-old Rose, a basketball analyst with Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US)’s ESPN, wasn’t available for comment, according to network spokesman Ben Cafardo.
USA Gymnastics spokeswoman Luan Peszek said in an e-mail that the organization will use the Fierce Five catchphrase for a reason unrelated to trademark restriction.
“The girls liked Fierce Five,” she said.
A Google search of the term “Fierce Five gymnastics” yields 931,000 results.
Fierce Five is available, according to the patent and trademark office. The term was trademarked by DreamWorks Animation and abandoned in 2009.
Paul J. Reilly of the New York law firm Baker Botts, the attorney listed on Rose’s trademark filing, said in a telephone interview that he hadn’t “talked to Mr. Rose about any of this.” He declined further comment.
Douglas, 16, the first black gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title and a member of the gold-medal U.S. team, stands to make $1 million to $3 million a year in endorsements, according to Bob Dorfman, executive creative director at San Francisco-based Baker Street Advertising. She already has an endorsement agreement with Kellogg Co. (K:US), which put the gymnast on the cover of its cornflakes box.
Douglas and her Olympic teammates will make a base salary of more than $100,000 each for participating in the 40-city Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions that begins Sept. 8 in San Jose, California, and ends Nov. 18 in Brooklyn, New York.
A message left at Kellogg’s media relations department seeking comment on whether the company would be interested in a “Fab Five” trademark license wasn’t immediately returned.
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