The ruling, known as nominative fair use, allows the use of a trademarked name when there is no better way to refer to something, as long as the use doesn't imply sponsorship. Silverman said that standard could well prevail if an advertiser were to go to court with the NFL about the Super Bowl trademark.
"If you are not implying false sponsorship or affiliation, it may well be, from a strictly legal perspective, that it's OK to say the words 'Super Bowl' in a commercial," Silverman said.
Given the NFL's aggressive history on the issue, it's not something he advises.
"The best advice is, when it comes to commercials, don't use the term 'Super Bowl,'" Silverman said. "It may not be the most precise advice, and it may not even be the most legally accurate advice, but it's certainly the safest advice."
Meanwhile, the corner bar with a banner promoting chicken wings and big screen TVs for Super Bowl Sunday is probably OK, at least for now.
"From a practical standpoint, the NFL is not going after local bars promoting the Super Bowl," McCarthy said. "But if it says the official Super Bowl or NFL party, that would be different."