NBA Trademarks

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the most significant professional sports leagues in North America, representing professional basketball. In June of 1946, The Basketball Association Of America (BAA) was born in New York City. The BAA’s founders were also involved in ice hockey, which would create a relationship between basketball teams and hockey teams, explaining why many share arenas. In August 1949, the BAA would become the NBA when it merged with its competitor (the National Basketball League).

Though they’re the largest, they weren’t the first attempted professional league in the USA. Though defunct in 1952, the American Basketball League has a handful of surviving teams today.

The league plays 82 season games from October until April, but the playoffs extend until June. The NBA is broken into Western and Eastern conferences, each having three divisions based on geographic location.

Famous NBA trademarks

Though it’s known for Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, the NBA has several well-known trademarks, from its logo to some of its teams, some of which aren’t in action anymore (such as the Oakland Oaks and Toronto Huskies). Let’s take a look at some of the most popular registered trademarks that the NBA owns under the name of NBA Properties, Inc.

NBA logo

There are multiple variations of the NBA logo, but they most commonly include the silhouette of a man dribbling a ball. The outline is based on Superstar Lakers player Jerry West. Fans have signed a petition asking the NBA to update the logo to include Kobe Bryant, but the original logo remains. The first use of the logo was in 1969, and it was officially registered in 1972, in the following categories:

  • Association services, including promoting the interests of basketball and basketball clubs
  • Clothing for men and women, including jerseys, T-shirts, and sportswear
  • Entertainment services including the organization and hosting of basketball exhibitions
  • Toys and sporting goods, including balls, basketball nets, and other equipment
  • Golf bags and equipment
  • Sports equipment bags
  • Basketball trading cards, stickers, and decals
  • Stationery portfolios
  • Statistical programs for TV and radio broadcast
  • Jewelry and accessories
  • Promoting goods and services, including utilizing sponsorship
  • Chewing gum and candy
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Cloth banners and wall hangings
  • Home textiles such as towels and tablecloths
  • Prerecorded videotapes of basketball events and competitions
  • Wrapping paper and activity books
  • Magazines, newsletters, and pamphlets
  • Retail clothing and sporting goods stores
  • Bath mats and kitchen textiles
  • Embroidered emblems and badges
  • Foods and confectionaries including cake mixes, snack foods, bakery products, and ice cream
  • Bags including rucksacks and athletic bags
  • Computer services, including online magazines and newsletters
  • Online retail services
  • Computer games and computer accessories
  • Pillows and seat cushions
  • Online transmissions and broadcasts

NBA 4Her

The NBA 4her range is a feminine range of outdoor sports clothing, accessories, and equipment. The range has been delivered in partnership with Rebook and Adidas. The wordmark was registered in 2004 in the following categories:

  • Sports clothing for women
  • Basketball sneakers/shoes
  • Coats and protective clothing for women

NBA store

The NBA store offers officially licensed retail merchandise for the NBA. The most famous NBA store is located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York. You can also purchase from the NBA store online. The trademark application was submitted in 2004 and registered in 2006, covering the following:

  • Promoting the goods and services through sponsorship
  • Public opinion poll surveys in the field of basketball for non-marketing purposes
  • Electronic retailing services via computer
  • Electronic mail order catalog services
  • Retail store services

NBA Cares

NBA Cares is the philanthropic arm of the NBA, created to address important social issues globally. NBA Cares specializes in supporting education, youth development, and those facing health issues. Launched in 2005, the NBA cares organization has contributed over 300,000 hours of community assistance in addition to raising millions of dollars. The wordmark ‘NBA Cares’ was registered in 2009 in the following categories:

  • Downloadable computer software for viewing databases
  • Video game programs and interactive video games
  • Downloadable computer avatars and skins
  • Online newsletters and magazines related to basketball
  • Publications and printed matter, including basketball trading cards, commemorative basketball collectibles, pen and paper holders, and other stationery
  • Books and reference material regarding the subject of basketball
  • Credit cards and telephone calling cards
  • Athletic bags, shoe bags, and other travel bags
  • Pet accessories, clothing, and leashes
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Toys, games, and sporting goods
  • Christmas ornaments and decorations
  • Retail store services, including online services and mail order services
  • Promoting public awareness of the need for charitable giving, community service, and education
  • Providing recognition and incentives through awards to demonstrate excellence in the field of community outreach programs designed to promote the importance of education, encourage community awareness, and fight illiteracy

The finals

The NBA finals are the conclusion of the post-season championship series. They are held annually, and eastern and western conference champions play a best-of-seven series to determine the champion. The current logo for the finals consists of ”The Finals” written in scripted font with a shooting star. The first use of this impactful but simple branding was in 2008, and it has since been registered in the following categories:

  • Sports clothing such as jerseys, caps, hats, and headwear
  • Publications and printed matter, including trading cards and stationery
  • Magazines, newsletters, and publications in the field of basketball
  • Brochures and pamphlets

NBA All-Star events

The NBA All-Star game is a professional basketball exhibition hosted annually in February by the NBA, showcasing 24 of the league’s superstar NBA players. It is a featured event of the NBA-All Star weekend, a weekend event running from Friday to Sunday. The first All-Star event took place in 1951.

NBA All-Star Events usually become registered trademarks. For example:

  • All-Star NYC 2015
  • NBA All-Star Toronto 2016
  • NBA All-Star New Orleans 2017
  • NBA All-Star Charlotte 2019
  • NBA All-Star Chicago 2020
  • NBA All-Star 2021
  • NBA All-Star Cleveland 2022

Are all subject to registered trademarks in the categories of:

  • Exhibitions and public basketball events
  • Clothing and sports shoes, particularly sports event merchandise

NBA All-Star 2023 has a pending application.


The NBA name was first trademarked in 1969, following its first use in 1954. The trademark is active in the following categories:

  • Promoting interest in basketball clubs
  • Towels
  • Sweaters and T-shirts, alongside other clothing
  • Basketballs and nets
  • Trading cards and decals
  • Video game programs
  • Sports broadcasts and entertainment services
  • Accessories such as jewelry, pins, watches, and belt buckles

Wrapping up

The NBA is a professional sports giant that has succeeded where many have failed, they’ve shot many great basketball players to fame and continue to play a key role in the American consciousness. The 30 basketball teams that make up the NBA have an average value of more than 2 billion dollars each; a significant part of this is brand value.

The NBA has a wealth of intellectual property to protect – which is why it has hundreds of trademarks registered with the USPTO. If you don’t register your unique branding with the trademark office, you’re not eligible for trademark protections enshrined in law. The NBA has proven willing to protect its immense wealth by trademarking even annual one-time events.

Xavier Morales, Esq.

About the Author:

Xavier Morales, Esq.

Mr. Morales founded this trademark law practice in January 2007 with the goal of providing intellectual property expertise to entrepreneurs and businesses around the country. Since then, he has filed more than 6,000 trademarks with the USPTO. You can learn more about Xavier here.

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