I love monograms. Naturally I was intrigued when I learned that the monogram “RG3” was the center of a recent trademark controversy. Two RG3’s are duking it out to see who can use RG3 for exclusive branding. Let’s meet the contenders:

  • Robert Griffin III: born in Japan, this RG3 played college football at Baylor before becoming a quarterback for the Washington Redskins.
  • Research Group 3: a biker favorite, this RG3 is well known in the extreme sports community for their motorcycle suspensions.

RG3's predecessor

Research Group 3 has been in business since 1998, well before the Griffin began his professional athletic career. Trademark issues began last year when Griffin filed an application to trademark both “RGIII” and “RG3” for use on athletic apparel and other merchandise.  Naturally, Research Group 3 pushed back and opposed Griffin’s filings on the sets of initials they had been using for years. So far the conflict hasn’t gotten ugly and both parties seem to be working towards a cooperative solution. Some commentators think that solution is straightforward: let RG3 be the face of RG3!

This symbiotic relationship could be particularly well-suited to Research Group 3. The “RG3” moniker has stuck to Griffin as his career has been on the rise, and his prospects continue to look up. With his professional skill, notoriety, and a generally positive reputation, association with Griffin could increase RG3’s visibility. This may also be the best way to allay Research Group 3’s concerns about branding confusion. If they do associate with RG3, they will not only have more press but it will also be clear that the RG3’s are separate entities. No one will wonder about their relationship; it will be obvious. And while it might otherwise have been cost-prohibitive for Research Group 3 to sign an endorsement deal with an NFL star, this situation may be different if the endorsement deal is part of a settlement that avoids costly litigation.

Erin Frankrone

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2 Responses to It’s a Quarterback! It’s a Motorcycle Part! It’s…RG3!

  1. Amanda Nguyen says:

    Way to start the summer off with an interesting post, Erin!

    Like the article you linked to mentions, I’m not too sure Research Group 3 would be hurt if its motorcycle was linked to a charismatic (and fast) athlete. Not to mention an athlete whose jersey was sold more in the last fiscal year than any other NFL jersey in league history.

    It seems that as long as Robert Griffin III sticks to field sports and sandwiches, there may be room for both.

  2. Graham Wellington says:

    As a fellow “third” (Graham Wellington III) I superficially sympathize with Griffin. Also, Griffin did not “self-gloss” (give himself the nickname). The media began referring to him as RG3.

    What I like most about this story is that I picture Robert Griffin doing what each one of has done at some point over the last few years – searching his name on Google! He’s in front of a laptop preparing his trademark application at night with a bag of ice on his knee. He goes to Google.com and enters “RG3”, combs through several pages of news stories about himself then arrives at Research Group 3’s website and decides to call the patent attorneys that advertise on TV at 2 in the morning. OK, unlikely but that’s my story.

    I believe both parties will simply agree to stay out of each others’ way and not engage in overlapping lines of business.

    Also, Griffin would be wise to avoid motorcycles – pro athletes and motorcycles don’t seem to mix well. See Ben Roethlisberger, Kellen Winslow Jr, Jay Williams, etc.

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