I believe that we can win a trademark of that phrase, says SDSU
The U.S. National Soccer Team started using the chant while practicing for the soon-to-be concluded tournament, and their supporters in the stands picked up the chant, both verbally and via social media, thus spreading the meme far and wide. This newly increased popularity and trendiness may reward SDSU, which is moving toward completion of a three-year quest to trademark the words.
After consulting with branding strategists, officials at SDSU decided to seek a trademark on the phrase, which is very popular at SDSU basketball games in particular. The thought is that, besides the chants usage at San Diego State functions, whenever there is an international, world-wide tournament, such as the Olympics or the current World Cup, the phrase can be adopted by a national team there, and its usage could go viral. This popularity could then lead to the desire to put the phrase onto sporting apparel, and it is the money from the sale of such items that would generate an income for the trademark holder.
The difficulty in securing the rights lies in the history of the chant. Prior to its use in San Diego, “I Believe That We Can Win” was apparently coined by a student at the Naval Academy, and later used by athletic teams at Utah State.
In attempting to make the chant their own, on October 27, 2011, Aztec Shops Ltd., an apparel shop located in the San Diego State student union, filed for trademark rights to the phrase if it appears on any T-shirts, shirts, sweatshirts, blouses, caps, hats, pants, skirts, or jackets. The trademark process is now in its final step, and anyone who wishes to challenge it must do so by August 22, 2014. After that, SDSU owns it.