Joel Embiid’s trademark “Trust the process” hints at business plans

Joel Embiid continues to trust the process — both on and off the court.

The Sixers star recently filed for a trademark for the phrase “Trust the Process,” which can be applied to toys, board games, puzzles, video games and more.

The trademark filing, filed Jan. 5, doesn’t mean Embiid has plans for any of those products yet — but it does point to Embiid’s ambitions to use his wealth to extend his famous 7½-foot reach off the court and into the business world. .

How a trademark application becomes a product

Trademark applications are not approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) until they have been used.

“When you file a trademark application, you can do it one of two ways: One is called a 1A application, which says, ‘I’ve already started using this trademark. I use that commercially,” said Stephen Vagno, an entertainment attorney and NFL agent at the Law Offices of Lloyd Z. Remick in Philadelphia.

Alternatively, “1B [application] is an application with intent to use’, meaning that the person or brand has not started commercial use of the trademark, but may plan to in the future and want to know that it is protected for them to use it in the intended way.

“When you apply for a trademark, you must [give] specific class for which you are submitting it,” Vanyo explained. “Once you get a trademark, it doesn’t go to every industry in the world.”

Once the USPTO certifies that a trademark is valid, the applicant has six months to file a statement of use proving that it is already in commercial use. Six-month extensions may be granted up to three times after initial trademark approval.

Between 2016 and now, Embiid has filed letters of intent to use both Trust the Process and Process, the documents show. Intended uses for these applications ranged from clothing such as shoes, socks and hoodies, to video games and other toys, to snow globes and soft drinks.

“You risk putting a lot of time, effort and energy into developing a brand or a product,” Vagno said. “Every time some lawyer is about to send a cease and desist letter, your entire investment is for naught and you quickly have to rebrand.”

» READ MORE: James Harden is the latest NBA player to try to make wine affordable. I put it to the test.

Branding is an athlete’s investment in themselves

Embiid has not been shy about his aspirations to increase his wealth and become a shrewd businessman.

“The endorsement business model is great, but that’s not how you get rich,” Embiid told Forbes earlier this year. He referred to one of the most visible ways athletes and other celebrities partner with brands like this: “I’m in a period of my life where I’m learning a lot because I’m still trying to find what I interested, what I want to do, so this summer was big in terms of meeting a bunch of people who helped me a lot, taught me what the best model was to go from rich to rich.”

In October, Embiid was one of several professional athletes who bought an ownership stake in Mitchell & Ness, a Philadelphia-based sports apparel company. Mitchell & Ness, which specializes in vintage sports jerseys, was bought last February by Fanatics, the online sports retailer owned by former Sixers managing partner Michael Rubin.

Rubin told Forbes he’s glad to be able to work with Embiid off the court and without conflict now that he’s sold his stake in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.

“From the early days, Joe was always incredibly inquisitive, asking you a lot of questions, wanting to learn, trying to be a sponge about how he could grow,” Rubin said. “Unlike many NBA players, Joe is very financially disciplined. He can save more and invest more and spend less than maybe any player.”

Embiid negotiated his latest contract with the Sixers — a $196 million deal that keeps him in Philadelphia through the 2026-27 season — himself, meaning he was able to keep the commission most players pay an agent to negotiate their contracts.

Although he doesn’t have an agent to represent him in contractual deals, he has hired two agents from WME, Hollywood’s longest-running talent agency, to represent him in out-of-court business deals — such as those that would involve filing commercial claims. brands. Embiid’s WME representatives did not respond to a request for comment on the latest Jan. 5 filing.

“Athletes are realizing that they just don’t have to let the team brand them or they don’t have to let the shoe company brand them,” Vagno said. “Athletes want to make sure they can brand themselves and become corporations in their own right, and owning trademarks and making sure you have the right to use names is an important first step.”

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