By Brenton Swart


There’s a little something extra in it for Pat Riley if the Miami Heat manage to win the championship this season. It would be the team’s third ring in a row or what is commonly called these days, a “three-peat”.

Not only will this add to the legacy of Pat Riley (and that hair), it will also put some extra coffers in the bank for him as well. You see in the US where you can trademark everything from a Hiccup Treatment (#7062320 – basically a cup with electrodes that give you a shock when you drink) to a High-Five Machine (#5356330 – no description required) you can also trademark terms/phrases.

Pat Riley had the foresight to trademark the term “three-peat” in November of 1988 when the team he was coaching, The Los Angeles Lakers, were trying for their third successive championship.  At the time it was a phrase that fans and members of the team were using and even by Riley’s admission, it was Byron Scott who coined the term.

I’m not sure if Riley felt the trademark gave him bad luck as only a few months after applying for it his Laker were swept by the Bad Boy Pistons for the first of their back to back run. The pain would’ve only been short lived however as in 1993 the Chicago Bulls completed the first of their three-peats.

This is when the money started to role in. It’s estimated after the first Bulls three-peat Riley pulled in $300,000 in licensing and royalty fees and that figure doubled to $600,000 in 1998. Riley again hit another payday in 2002 when the Lakers pulled off their first three-peat since 1954.

His payment on the use of the term is not just limited to basketball. Any bumper sticker, poster, collector plate, mug, hat, jacket or shirt using the term has to pay a royalty fee to Riley. Luckily it doesn’t cover blogs otherwise I’d owe him about $20 by now.

If Miami were to win this season it would give Riley an even bigger boost. Heat merchandise is the most popular in the NBA and according to, the largest online retailer of officially licenced team merchandise, Miami is also first in team sales come playoffs time.

As with anything in the US when there is money to be made, someone tries to copy it. Back in 2011 a 36 year old lawyer/actor (of course he’s a /actor, he lives in LA) named Rohit Walia trademarked the term “three-heat”. If this were to become the popular phase if Miami win, Walia is sitting on a gold mine.

Remember Linsanity? Yup Jeremy Lin trademarked that. Fear the brow? Yup Anthony Davis has also gotten into the act.

Players are all about the brand these days with most making substantially more money off the court then they do on it. LeBron’s team salary being around $19M USD a year pales in comparison to his $40M USD a year he makes off endorsements and even though he has the highest selling jersey in the league, jersey sales profits are spread evenly amongst the players. Yay for Jared Dudley.

Well they call the US the land of opportunity. Maybe I should come up with a witty phrase and trademark that? Hmmm. No three-heat? No three-peat? Not 5, not 6, not 7, only 2?

There’s got to be something I can come up with.