“Tebowing” is now trademarked.
New York Jets backup quarterback and former Gator Tim Tebow was granted the rights for the down-on-one-knee praying position earlier this month. In an ESPN article, Tebow said he intends to control the use of the term and meaning behind it rather than to gain financially.
Richard J. Lutz, U. Florida marketing professor, said a trademark is the only way for Tebow to legally control the term, especially because others have attempted to obtain the rights for commercial purposes in the past.
“Obviously, it’s a huge phenomenon,” Lutz said.
He said without full trademark rights, perversions of the term are possible and could reflect badly on Tebow.
“People don’t know who owns what,” Lutz said. “If they see ‘Tebow,’ then they think it’s Tebow.”
Steve Russell, sports director at WRUF radio, said some fans admire Tebow not only because he is a football player, but also because of his principles.
“If you’re looking at it from Tim’s perspective, he’s trying to protect what he feels it represents, and from his perspective, I certainly understand it,” Russell said.
However, it may be difficult to enforce the trademark among Gators fans, Russell said, and it may hurt average fans who do the “Tebowing” move as a way to pay homage.
Rebisi Owhonda, a 19-year-old biology sophomore, said he thinks the trademark will affect the presence of “Tebowing” on social media sites.
“It’s going to be a harm, because people can’t actively and openly use it anymore,” he said.
“Tebowing” could be used to sell hats and T-shirts, toy guns and pantyhose, according to an ESPN article.
Tebow told ESPN the money from those sales would eventually go to the Tim Tebow Foundation. Russell said it is no surprise to him that Tebow wants to donate the funds.
“Knowing Tim, I think that was important to him — that if there was any profit to be made, so to speak, the money would go to his foundation,” he said.
Lutz said the trademark could have a similar effect to the scriptures Tebow wore under his eyes during many Gators games. People might see the term and want to find out its meaning, which could be exactly what Tebow wants.
“I think most people would look at what he’s doing and say he has the right to do that,” Lutz said. “It’s his name.”