Sat. Oct 1st, 2022
Virginia urologists with a slam-dunk vasectomy campaign.
enlarge Virginia urologists with a slam-dunk vasectomy campaign.

For a moment, urologists in Virginia hoped to get patients on the couch as they watched this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. But the university athletics association has reported a violation.

In a February filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the NCAA alleges that a Virginia Urology Center trademarked advertising campaign called “Vasectomy Mayhem” is “confusingly similar” to the association’s trademark “March Madness.”

Continued use of “Vasectomy Mayhem” will “probably lead to confusion, error, or misrepresentation” that the campaign and/or urologists “are in some way legitimately affiliated with, or sponsored, licensed, or endorsed by” the NCAA, the association claimed.

From the sidelines, “Vasectomy Mayhem” may seem like nothing more than a desperate attempt at a birth control campaign by Richmond, Virginia-based doctors. But a repeat of the campaign’s bally theme helps explain why the NCAA remains steadfast on the matter.

The urologists explicitly link vasectomies to the annual tournament, writing on their website that the annual campaign originally started in March “so men could watch college basketball during the 3 recovery days” after the procedure.

Balls and tubes

Vasectomies are a nearly 100 percent effective form of male contraception that involves only low-risk outpatient surgery. In a 10- to 30-minute procedure, doctors cut and tie off the vas deferens — the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra. In most cases, it is much less expensive and complicated than female sterilization and long-term contraceptive drugs for women. Doctors simply recommend that men rest for 24 hours and take it easy for two or three days after cutting.

In March 2011, Virginia Urology posted a notice on their website offering patients a special “recovery kit” if they undergo their vasectomy between March 16 and April 1, the rough time frame of the NCAA tournament. “Prime basketball is on the air all month long, so there’s no better time to get it done,” the post read.

Similarly, in a video ad for the campaign, the urologists beg potential patients to “call now to match your couch time with the optimal tube time for the best games.” It also uses images of basketballs and a basketball tournament bracket and includes the phrases “Hoops Madness” and “Vasectomy Madness”, playing on the March Madness theme. In another video, doctors appear on a real basketball court and dribble a ball.

Dominic Madigan, an attorney for Virginia Urology, told NBC News that he is confident the USPTO was right in awarding the doctors the trademark “Vasectomy Mayhem.”

“We don’t think anyone confused our vasectomy ads with any other organization,” Madigan said. “We are disappointed with this costly and unnecessary legal challenge, but will continue to focus on caring for our community.”

Still, the urologists seem to have tried to scrub the chaos from their website. The link to the vasectomy chaos page (https://www.uro.com/about-us/vasectomy-mayhem/) is now simply called “Vasectomy Time”, and vasectomiemadness.com redirects to an error message on the website of practice. The urologists are now calling the link VasectomyTime.com, which is apparently for any time.

By akfire1

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