Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Web of Trademark Law is About to get Bigger

The Federal Trademark Dilution Act of 1996 is about to expand in scope. The bill is simply awaiting the President's signature in order to become law. The new Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006 basically expands the scope of dilution to include blurring or tarnishment.

Here's what the government says about both:

* "Defines 'dilution by blurring' as an association arising from the similarity between a mark or trade name and a famous mark that impairs the distinctiveness of the famous mark. Allows the court to consider all relevant factors when determining whether a mark or trade name is likely to cause dilution by blurring, including:

(1) the degree of similarity; (2) the degree of inherent or acquired distinctiveness of the famous mark; (3) the extent to which the owner of the famous mark is engaging in substantially exclusive use of the mark; (4) the degree of recognition of the famous mark; (5) whether the user of the mark or trade name intended to create an association with the famous mark; and (6) any actual association between the mark or trade name and the famous mark.

* Defines 'dilution by tarnishment' as an association arising from the similarity between a mark or trade name and a famous mark that harms the reputation of the famous mark." You can read the entire summary here.

So what does this mean for companies that sell items like this or this or even this. Warning, some of these are bound to offend. Once this becomes law, are we going to see a crackdown on products like this? How much will Parody as Fair Use protect companies such as these?

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