Topic: How trademark law harms free speech and what to do about it

Presenter: Professor Lisa P. Ramsey - University of San Diego

Many trademarks consist of language. Firms who own trademarks often enforce their trademark rights against third parties in ways that may harm the right to freedom of expression. For example, during the last presidential election in the United States, the owner of a trademark registration for the term "Change Rocks" for jewelry claimed that Barack Obama's political campaign must get permission before it could sell T-shirts or other campaign memorabilia displaying the term "Change Rocks." Louis Vuitton filed suit against Haute Diggity Dog for infringement and dilution when it sold "Chewy Vuiton" dog toys. American Airlines sued the Internet search engine firm Google for using its trademarks to trigger sponsored advertising links displayed near organic search results. This paper explains how trademark law can harm the free flow of ideas and commercial information and explores how nations can protect speech interests and competition in their trademark legislation and court decisions.

All welcome, no RSVP required.

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

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