Tim Tebow, a devout Christian last October successfully trademarked his one knee, head on fisted hand pose. Does anyone else find this disturbing and slightly offensive? Call me Catholic (oh wait I am), but I do believe that trademark pose is something we all have been doing and practicing long before Mr. Tebow showed up on a football field. Since when is a prayer pose acceptable to trademark for financially gain? Does this not conflict with our U.S. right to freedom of religion?
Perhaps I am being cynical but if Madonna all of a sudden trademarked a yoga downward facing dog knee pose, I am sure the Muslim community would be in an uproar and rightfully so. Is Tim Tebow now going to tell Christians how to pray? Or charge them for practicing their religious beliefs? Okay, this scenario is highly unlikely to unfold. Why then did he feel the need to trademark a traditional religious stance as his solely?
Tim Tebow claims he is doing this to protect the way we pray. Exactly how he plans to control and protect this is something even he is unclear about. When asked he said “So I think (it’s) just to control how it’s used…Make sure it’s used in the right way”. Perhaps the need to control praying stems from when Robert Downey, Jr. famously parodied him during the Oscars. This reminds me to look more closely at trademark parody.
When can comedy sneak past trademark infringement? In order for parody to be successful the following elements must be represented and proved. The comedian must reference original host work of the famous person and the work must be highly recognizable to the general public. The comedian must also use the original host work only enough to convey the message to the audience and then tweak the original work to derive new original work.
In other words, Robert Downey Jr. and comedians everywhere can still arguably mimic Tebow’s prayer pose whether he likes it or not. Yes, this trademark made it a bit more difficult for comedians to successfully do, but not impossible. It seems the trademark was filed more for censorship rather than marketability. Whether this will stop comedians and others from poking fun of his “tebowing” is still to be determined. For now all he his managed to do is anger the Christian community.