'Linsanity' hits US trademark office

Updated: 2012-02-22 08:08

By Zhang Zhao (China Daily)

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'Linsanity' hits US trademark office
Jeremy Lin is not only competing on the basketball court. He and two others have filed for a trademark on the buzzword. [Chris Trotman / AFP]

The craze for overnight NBA sensation Jeremy Shu-How Lin has triggered a fight for the right to "Linsanity", the buzzword used to describe the young Chinese-American's talent.

Lin's rise from benchwarmer to international sensation in less than two weeks has given the term enough potential value that he and at least two others are battling for a trademark on it at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Linsanity is even listed as one of the early candidates for this year's Word of the Year, according to the American Dialect Society.

Lin, a 23-year-old Harvard graduate and second-year point guard for the New York Knicks, filed his trademark application on Feb 13, paying a $1,625 filing fee for rights to a mark that could be used on a wide range of items including clothes, toys, drinks and daily commodities, according to the USPTO website.

But Lin was not the first. He was nearly a week later than the first applicant, California resident Yenchin Chang.

The 35-year-old Chang, who said he works in the import-export business, told Bloomberg News that he would consider selling the trademark to Lin if he wants it.

"I'll think about it when that time comes," Chang said. "Right now, I just want to have some fun with it."

Like Lin, Chang is also of Taiwanese descent. He said he is "very proud of Jeremy" and "wanted to be a part of the excitement".

While Chang said he has no personal connection with Lin, the second trademark applicant, Andrew Slayton, said he was Lin's coach in high school.

Slayton, also a California resident, filed his application on Feb 9. He has been running the website Linsanity.com since 2010 that sells Lin-themed T-shirts.

Trademarks filed by Chang and Slayton are planned for use on clothes including shirts, jackets and caps.

Law experts said the trademark might not be an easy sell to USPTO officials.

Milord Keshishian, an attorney with the Los Angeles-based patent, trademark and copyright firm Milord & Associates, said that the law "doesn't bode well" for anyone other than Lin trying to make money through the trademark.

"This looks like a bad-faith attempt to profit from Jeremy Lin's recent acclaim," he said.

Gary Krugman, a partner at the Washington-based law firm Sughrue Mion, told Bloomberg that Chang and Slayton are both "small operators".

"If Jeremy comes in with a big law firm they won't be able to hang with him," Krugman said.

Toronto lawyer Javad Heydary said even Lin himself "would have to hire lawyers to assert a legal claim to the Linsanity trademark", even though the word has "part of his name", according to Canadian news website thestar.com.

Linsanity has even generated its own spin-off puns such as "lincredible", "linvincible", "linning" and "Linderella".

China Daily