Tom Brady’s attempt to trademark ‘Tom Terrific’ got rejected

The nickname "uniquely and unmistakably" refers to former New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver, government officials ruled this week.

Tom Brady walks to the field during a practice last week at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

Don’t expect any Tom Brady-themed “Tom Terrific” shirts or posters in the near future.

The Patriots quarterback’s attempt to trademark the nickname — commonly associated with former New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver — has been rejected, according to a notice Thursday from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Brady’s company TEB Capital Management filed two trademark application in May to use Tom Terrific for commercial use, stoking outrage from Mets fans. One application was for trading cards and posters; the other was for shirts.

The patent office refused them both this week, citing two reasons — both related to Seaver.

The first reason was that the trademark would “falsely suggest a connection” with Seaver. The patent office said that Tom Terrific “points uniquely and unmistakably” to the 74-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher, who recently retired from public life due to dementia.


“Given the fame of the mark and use of the mark in connection with the applied-for goods, consumers will falsely associate applicant’s mark with Tom Seaver,” they wrote in the notice Thursday.

The second — similar, but separate — reason for the rejection was that Brady’s trademark application used a name associated with a well-known living individual without their permission.

Officials said that Brady would have to provide “written consent,” personally signed by Seaver, to trademark Tom Terrific. They also said he would also provide a statement clarifying that the trademark refers to Seaver. In other words, Brady wouldn’t be able to trademark the nickname to refer to himself.

Patent office officials noted that they received a letter of protest earlier this month, documenting the many ways — news articles, encyclopedias, existing T-shirts — that Tom Terrific had been established as referring to Seaver.

To take Brady at his word, he never actually wanted to use the trademark for commercial purposes. In the wake of the backlash from New Yorkers, the quarterback told reporters that — despite the stated intent of his application — the actual reason for his trademark attempt was to block others from selling goods referring to himself as Tom Terrific.

“I didn’t like the nickname and I wanted to make sure no one used it because some people wanted to use it,” Brady said. “I was trying to keep people from using it and then it got spun around to something different than what it was.”


Julianne Metzger a USPTO spokeswoman, told Friday that the refusals are “nonfinal office actions” and that Brady has the option of providing more information to address each legal problem, if he wants to continue the application.

According to the notices, Brady has six months to respond to the rulings or his application will be abandoned.

Update: Later on Friday afternoon, the Mets officially weighed in with their response to the news.