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NBA Signals New NFT Plans With ‘The Association’

Last Updated: July 5, 2023
A new federal trademark application suggests the NBA intends to enhance its presence regarding virtual collectibles, memorabilia, art, gaming, and more.

The NFL turned heads in March when it finally relented and permitted teams to forge deals in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries, though with some notable restrictions. But as modestly encouraging as it was, the league is still some ways behind the NBA as it relates to embracing the worlds of crypto, NFTs, and Web3 with the fewest possible strings attached.

We got our latest evidence Monday in the form of a trademark application submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office as noted to Boardroom by attorney Josh Gerben of Gerben Intellectual Property.

The paperwork includes a request for a single mark — “The Association” — but within it is a long list of possibilities for NFT experiences that could build on an exciting foundation formed by platforms like Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot.

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  • The Association mark featuring “standard characters, without claim to any particular font style, size, or color.”

What it’s for:

  • Downloadable multimedia file containing artwork, a variety of virtual consumer merchandise, game tickets, game programs, trading cards, collectibles, memorabilia, jerseys, uniforms, basketballs, scoreboards, video games, signs, player images, fan images, arena images, team logos, league logos, text, autographs, audio, photographs, video, game action, interviews, clips, highlights, broadcasts, events, tributes, shows, statistics, records, documents, memes relating to the field of basketball authenticated by non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  • Downloadable multimedia file containing artwork, images, text, audio, and video relating to the field of basketball authenticated by non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

Just like Jerry West is more than a logo, “The Association” is more than a nickname. And while it’s too early to tell just what form this federal filing will ultimately take on the court, on your smartphone, or down the infinite roads of the metaverse, it’s surely more proof that the NBA is as serious as it is creative on the subject of cultivating new fans and finding innovative ways to engage existing ones.

UPDATE 3/14: Blockchain transaction records indicate that the NBA is now in possession of two ENS (Ethereum Service Name) domains — nba.eth and theassociation.eth — via Adrienne O’Keefe, the league’s Associate Vice President of Global Partnerships. Simply put, an ENS makes it easier for human beings like you and me to locate a crypto address by representing it in like a URL.

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About The Author
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn is the Managing Editor of Boardroom. Before joining the team, he was an editor and multimedia talent for several sports and culture verticals at Minute Media and an editor, reporter, and site manager at SB Nation. A specialist in content strategy, copywriting, and SEO, he has additionally worked as a digital consultant in the corporate services, retail, and tech industries. He cannot be expected to be impartial on any matter regarding the Florida Gators or Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter @RealFakeSamDunn.