Quarterback moves to trademark 'Tebowing'
As a rookie playing for the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow was photographed bowing in prayer in the end zone on one knee.
October 20th, 2012
05:09 PM ET

Quarterback moves to trademark 'Tebowing'

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Thou shalt not Tebow, for the wages of Tebowing is trademark infringement.

A management and consulting firm representing New York Jets back-up quarterback and evangelical sports icon Tim Tebow has moved one step closer to holding the trademark "Tebowing" for use on things as widespread as clothing, pencil sharpeners and holiday ornaments.

Tebow has long been very public about his Christian faith. In college, he sported Bible verses on his eye black, which the NCAA went on to ban after his graduation.  Tebow invoked God frequently at news conferences and wrote at length about his faith and growing up the son of evangelical missionaries the Philippines in an autobiography.

"Tebowing" became part of the American lexicon when Tebow, then a second year player for the Denver Broncos, was photographed bowing in prayer in the end zone on one knee, helmeted head bowed a top a clenched fist.  It quickly became an Internet meme.

One of the first to start the meme was Jared Kleinstein, a Denver-born Broncos fan, living in New York.  He started a website, www.tebowing.com, defining Tebow as a verb: “To get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.”  He posted a photo of himself "Tebowing."

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Tebow approved of the growing phenomenon at the time writing, “Love it,” on his Twitter account.

A paper trail of documents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office shows that soon after the meme caught fire last year, Kleinstein filed to trademark "Tebowing" and began to sell apparel with the phrase on it.

XV Enterprises, a marketing and consulting firm, protested Kleinstein's application through California attorney Anthony M. Keats in October.  Trademark records show Tebow is the sole shareholder of XV Enterprises, which is thought to represent the Roman numerals for his longtime football jersey number, 15.

In a letter of protest, Keats wrote to the Trademark office that consumers would incorrectly think the goods were connected to Tebow or his charity the Tim Tebow Foundation.

"Inevitably, in today's commercial arena of sports marketing, consumers will be led to believe that at a minimum, Tim Tebow or the Tim Tebow Foundation has approved of all of the third-party applicant's goods in the context of licensing; or, what is even more damaging, that Tim Tebow is actually connected with or associated with the goods of the cited applicants when he is not," Keats wrote.

On February 22, the trademark office issued a refusal of registration to Kleinstein's application, saying the material he hoped to trademark, "includes matter which falsely suggests a connection with Tim Tebow. Accordingly, registration is refused under Trademark Act Section 2(a)."

After Kleinstein's Tebowing trademark attempt was rejected, Tebow's team of advisers appear to have stepped in to claim the trademark.

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An August 21  Trademark Application shows a letter signed by Tebow giving his consent to the "use and registration" by XV Enterprises LLC "of my nickname TEBOWING as a trademark and/or service mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office."  The filing also shows that  Tim Tebow is the sole shareholder of XV Enterprises LLC.

On October 9, the trademark, now showing XV Enterprises LLC as the owner, was published for opposition.  That means anyone who wants to oppose the registration has 30 days to do so.  If no one does, or the opposition is deemed by trademark office to be unsubstantiated, then Tim Tebow will officially own Tebowing.

Newsday, which was among the first to report on the issue, quoted Tebow as saying, "It got hyped up as Tebowing, so [the trademark] was more to just control how it's used, make sure it's used in the right way."

Explain it to me: John 3:16

U.S. Patent and Trademark office records show in the past year a number of applications for Tebow-related trademarks have come up and been smacked down.

In July, records show, the trademark office refused an application by Michael Dachs of Merrick, New York, who sought a trademark for the name and logo "Lord and Tebow" for T-shirts and apparel that mimicked the logo of the department store Lord and Taylor.

The trademark office refused that claim because the logo was "virtually identical" to the Lord & Taylor logo.  They also said in their rejection that consumers could "falsely suggest a connection with Tim Tebow ... Tim Tebow is so famous that consumers would presume a connection."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Celebrity • Sports

soundoff (507 Responses)
  1. ForGoodOfAll

    The act known as Tebowing is merely a ploy to draw additional attention to one's own self.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  2. mike k

    it's kind of hard to kneel in the endzone when you never get there. how's that bench, tim?

    October 22, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  3. julieann

    Doesn't take long for the "cares of this world" and the "deceitfulness of riches" to choke out the word and make him unfruitful. Jesus stated clearly, you cannot serve God and money, because eventually you will need to choose between them.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  4. ROMNEY2012

    Tebow should trademark throwing the football into the dirt 5 yards in front of the receiver.

    On second thought, looks like Joe Flacco already owns that.


    October 22, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Mad at Nothing

      Go finish school, fool.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  5. derp

    He tried to trademark being starting QB position in the NFL, only he didn't qualify. The trademark office did agree to let him trademark the signal that a referee gives after an incomplete pass.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  6. Bob

    What would "god" and "jesus" think????

    October 22, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  7. Mass Resident who DOES NOT want Romney

    turning a profit on praying? Yup, he's an evangelical all right.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Mad at Nothing


      October 22, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  8. john

    Something a lot of the Christian Faith seems to forget...just like the helping the poor and not going for wealth. But hey, what does Jesus know about it, right?

    Matthew 6:1-34 ESV
    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. ...

    Matthew 6:6 ESV
    But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    Matthew 6:5 ESV
    “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  9. R

    gonna have to make money somehow so he might as well join the $ for GOD bandwagon since he can't play football worth a hoot

    October 22, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  10. tet1953

    This is a serious question. If Tebow can trademark this gesture, then couldn't someone could trademark another gesture such as a fist with middle finger extended upward? Absurd, yes. But so is trademarking what is essentially genuflection used for thousands of years.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  11. upstateny

    First..."Tebowing"...it wasn't him that made the big deal, the media and advertisers took advantage of the opportunity.
    Second...Perhaps the NYJets don't need him to pray as much as they need him to play.
    WWJD...what would the jets do you ask...keep Sanchez in when he obviously struggling this year and have one of the better back QB's stand their in a Jets uniform to "scare" the other team.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Twirtzy

      Who is the quarterback standing on the sideline in a Jets uniform who is a better QB? You can't be a football fan and think it's Tebow......

      October 22, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  12. heehaww39191

    Love him or hate him, Tebow and his cult following is wildly influential and a money making machine. I don't believe Tebow was trying cash in on the Tebowing phenomenon, but merely trying to protect his image from being used without his permission. In short, the trademarking of "Tebowing" was a defensive move. Kleinstein, who has no affiliation to Tebow, made the first move by trying to trademark "Tebowing" himself. If he had succeeded, he could have used "Tebowing," which is inexorably linked to Tim Tebow, in any way he chose. Meaning, he could potentially put Tebow's name on products or promote messages that Tim Tebow would not necessarily approve. Realizing the danger, Tebow had to take action so someone like Kleinstein wouldn't use the influence of Tebow to push his own agenda, philosophy, etc. A similar situation occurred when Tebow first arrived in New York and someone put up a billboard ad featuring Tebow. How would you like it if a stranger tried to trademark one of your behaviors, a behavior that is associated almost exclusively with you? He or she could potentially use your behavior to advertise for something repugnant like a strip club. (Yes, an extreme example, but very applicable).

    October 22, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  13. charlie Strater


    October 22, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  14. Tony

    How is he trademarking "Tebowing"? He didn't invent the term and it's been widely used.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  15. Wastrel

    You were never supposed to Tebow. Jesus (Tebow's object of worship, not mine) said to pray and give thanks in private, and not be like one of the Pharisee on the streetcorner.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • karek40

      I am confident Mr. Tebow prays in private and makes private requests. His kneeling in public to give thanks in no way violates Jesus's statement regarding prayer. And in everything give thanks, Go Tim

      October 22, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  16. Tr1Xen

    Tim Tebow should trademark the incomplete pass while he's at it.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  17. Twirtzy

    He should trademark the phrase "Overrated" too. He owns it.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Tr1Xen

      Amen to that!

      October 22, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  18. Andrew B

    Only an complete self absorbed ass would trademark prayer

    October 22, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Tr1Xen

      You said it perfectly, sir.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  19. Twirtzy

    He has to do something to try and stay relevant. Football isn't his thing so now he's desperate.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  20. justwrong1

    Ridiculous, People have been executing that Pose for thousands of years and it should never have been given a human's name, it just happens that some football player did it too and now it's something new, No, it's not New and Tebow should NOT own something that isn't his. Just Crap.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • C.H.

      He's trademarking the NAME, not the pose.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Twirtzy


      If he is just trademarking the name, does that mean we get to pick what pose should be called Tebowing? I have some ideas in mind. That's absurd. If it wasn't for the pose, there would be no "Tebowing".

      October 22, 2012 at 11:20 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.