Pre-season gridiron games aren’t usually on most Aussie’s sports radars in August – the run-up to the AFL and NRL finals usually take up most of our attention. But this year is a little different. This year, the former rugby league star Jarryd Hayne is attempting to do something that few Aussie footballers have been able to do: break into the American NFL. And one trade mark filing may prove that he’s got the confidence and bravado he needs to make it.
Last year, the former Parramatta Eels, NSW Blues, and Australian Kangaroos fullback Jarryd Hayne stunned his Aussie fans by announcing that he would be quitting rugby league to pursue his dream of playing in the American NFL (or “gridiron” as most Australians know it by). Not that we should have been that surprised. Anyone who has been following his career closely would have known that he’s been talking about making it in America for years. He had even tried to make the switch as far back as 2011, but his failure to complete his HSC ruled him out of playing college football.
However, as many of his league opponents can attest, Hayne’s talent cannot be denied, and in March the San Fransisco 49ers signed Hayne up to a three-year contract.
And he hasn’t looked back. Hayne made his pre-season debut for the 49ers last week against the Houston Texans and quickly made a huge impact, completing a 53-yard run with his second touch of the ball (the words “spectacular” and “dazzling” were quickly tossed around).
Hayne continued to impress in his second game by making a 27-yard, 34-yard, and then a 23-yard punt return in the first quarter of his second pre-season match against the Dallas Cowboys. By comparison, the 49ers’ longest punt return in the entire 2014 season was 23 yards!
It’s clear from all the headlines we’ve seen that Jarryd Hayne has arrived.
But for me, as a fan and as an IP lawyer, things got real when I noticed that that the 49ers had started hyping him up in the US using his NRL moniker of “The Hayne Plane” on Twitter.
For those unfamiliar with the name, “The Hayne Plane” refers to Jarryd Hayne’s famous post-try celebration, where after scoring a try he extends his arms to the side as if they were the wings of a plane, and by extension, to Hayne himself.
Photo credit: PNG Rugby Football League / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
In a game where post-touchdown celebrations are a national pastime, I’m betting “The Hayne Plane” will be right at home. The 49ers are smart to start spreading the word.
But as soon as I saw the 49ers using the hashtag #HaynePlane, I worried whether Jarryd had gotten round to protecting his trade mark move.
So, of course, I had to check.
The good news is that in April this year, the Australian Trade Marks Office registered the trade mark THE HAYNE PLANE as number 1646505 in the name of J.H Promotions Pty Ltd. We assume this company has some sort of relationship with Jarryd Hayne but we’ve yet to confirm it. J. H Promotions has signalled its intentions though by also applying for registration of the mark in the US and New Zealand via the Madrid system for the international registration of trade marks.
Interestingly the trade mark was applied for in September last year (just as he was preparing to make his announce his move to the US). This would seem to suggest that this was registered by Jarryd and his team and if it is, it’s a clear indicator of his confidence in not just making the grade in the US, but becoming a major star in the US. And if confidence counts for anything, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll be seeing the hashtag #HaynePlane trending across Twitter in the US.
Before he does so though, he may also want to consider registering a pictorial version of the move itself as a trade mark and not just the name. There is precedent for such protection.
A couple of years ago Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale registered as a trade mark a pictorial representation of his distinctive goal celebration: a heart-shaped hand gesture, with his shirt number (11) in the centre of the image, referred to by fans as the “Eleven of Hearts”.
We can imagine the 49ers rolling out t-shirts with Hayne’s trade mark move in silhouette. And it’s not like the 49ers aren’t used to this sort of thing. One of Haynes’s teammates in the 49ers Colin Kaepernick registered the term Kaepernicking in 2013, which refers to his signature move of kissing his bicep after a touchdown.
Picture credit: Krist-wait4it-tine / DeviantArt / CC BY-ND 3.0
It doesn’t appear that Kaepernick registered a pictorial representation of his signature move, but that shouldn’t stop Hayne from trying. If his first two games is anything to go by, he could soon be the hottest property in US football.
We’ll be watching closely. The Hayne Plane is boarding now.