NCAA seeks trademark for 'Battle in the Bubble' in potential hint at March Madness plans

Sports leagues are using bubbles to continue play during the coronavirus pandemic

The NCAA filed to trademark the phrase “Battle in the Bubble” earlier this month, in a move that could hint at how officials plan to approach upcoming college sports events, such as the March Madness basketball tournaments, during the coronavirus pandemic.

The NCAA submitted the filing on Aug. 26, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s public database. Officials are seeking to trademark the phrase for the sale of a variety of products, including “Clothing, namely, sweatshirts, sweatpants, shirts, pants, T-shirts, shorts, dresses, skirts, jackets, and athletic uniforms; headwear; footwear,” the filing said.


Additionally, the application notes that the NCAA could use the phrase “Battle in the Bubble” for “entertainment services in the nature of athletic contests, games, tournaments, exhibitions and other athletic events at the college level.”

The NCAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trademark attorney Josh Gerben was first to report the filing.

Professional sports leagues, including the NBA and MLS, have continued play inside an isolated “bubble” environment in recent months in a bid to limit travel and protect players from the spread of COVID-19. A similar environment could allow the NCAA to move forward with some sports this fall, including college basketball and its postseason tournament, which account for the majority of its revenue.

"It's something we've been talking about and studying for some time, since the NBA shared their plan," Dan Gavitt, the NCAA's vice president of basketball, told ESPN earlier this month. "We've had a chance to see its execution. We know that it works."


The NCAA was forced to cancel its men’s and women’s postseason basketball tournaments in March due to the pandemic, erasing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Two of the NCAA’s “Power Five” conferences – the Big Ten and the Pac-12 – postponed their fall sports seasons earlier this month out of concern for the potential health risks to student-athletes. Conference officials have yet to determine whether college basketball season will move forward as scheduled.