Exporting Trademark Confusion

Exporting Trademark Confusion

Ann Bartow (University of South Carolina, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-576-4.ch005
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Abstract

A judicial determination of “likelihood of confusion” is the linchpin of successful trademark infringement actions in the United States, and is often useful to prevail on a trademark dilution cause of action as well. Such determinations are exceedingly subjective, and often seem premised on a very low estimation of the intelligence and powers of discernment of the typical consumer. Many appear virtually pretextual, simply adopted as a necessary step in “protecting” trademarks and according trademark holders broad property-like rights that can impair competition and silence free speech. Though seemingly irrational and generally socially undesirable, U.S. “likelihood of confusion” jurisprudence has gained a foothold in cyberspace through dispute-resolution procedures addressing disputes about Internet domain names. In consequence, trademark holders generally prevail and are increasingly seen as holding inchoate rights in any domain name containing, alluding to, or similar to their trademarks across the globe, even though U.S. trademark law logically should not have extraterritorial application.

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