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This course will explore the doctrine, policy, and theory of trademark protection and unfair competition law. We will focus on the federal Lanham Act and also cover some aspects of state unfair competition law. We will ask why, and in what circumstances, things like words, symbols, slogans, product design, packaging, smells, sounds, and restaurant decor can serve as trademarks. We will also study the rules of trademark ownership, including how a party can obtain, maintain, and transfer trademark rights; the scope and limitations of trademark rights; the rules and policies related to trademark infringement and dilution; the nature of trademark defenses, and the right of competitors (and the public) to engage in unauthorized uses of marks for purposes such as parody and comparative advertising. Along the way, we will discuss the heated debates over the broad expansion of trademark rights in recent decades and explore some of the trademark issues involved with internet uses of marks. Other topics that might be covered, time permitting, include false advertising and the legal protection of trademarks abroad.
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