NDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Basketball fans heading to the Final Four hoping to eat March Madness Meatloaf or a Big Dance Burrito could walk away hungry.
While the NCAA loves the fanfare of its men's basketball tournament championship games, it's not so willing to share its names. Terms like Final Four, March Madness and even Big Dance can only be used with authorization from the NCAA.
It's part of the NCAA's effort to protect trademark terminology, an effort that limits the way businesses can sell one of the biggest sporting events around.
''It just takes all the fun out of it for us,'' said Brad Everett, manager of the Rock Bottom Brewery. ''It's almost ridiculous how many things are on the list that we can't say or do.''
The NCAA also has asked the city to enforce a downtown ''clean zone.'' That means no street vendors, strict enforcement of unlicensed product sales and no hanging of signs or banners -- unless they're the $50, NCAA-sanctioned ones sold by the local Final Four committee.
A city ordinance passed in 1995 requires the downtown area to accommodate certain requests in order to attract high-profile events like the Final Four.
''The city obviously benefits a great deal from these events,'' said Steve Campbell, a spokesman for Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson.
Scott Bearby, an NCAA assistant general counsel, said the clean zone is designed to provide fans with a noncommercial, non-threatening environment.
''We don't want them harassed and inundated with commercial activity,'' Bearby said.
Bearby said the NCAA fears that if it allows one trademark infringement, others will follow. And the organization has reason for concern, says Thomas Bowers, co-director of the Sports and Entertainment Academy at Indiana University.
''If they don't take care to prevent use by other people of their marks, the marks in a way lose their distinctiveness,'' Bowers said.
Bowers also said problems could develop with NCAA sponsors if other businesses were allowed to use trademarks freely. He said even the innocent use of an NCAA buzzword on a menu or in an advertisement could ruffle sponsors' feathers.
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