Revised Trademark Law Could Curb Free Speech
“Embedded deep in H.R. 683 — “The Trademark Dilution Revision Act,” which awaits what may well be a last look in the U.S. House of Representatives before being signed into law by President Bush — is language that would remove key free-speech protections that have been part of U.S. trademark law since 1996.
“With only the most minimal notice in the mainstream press, the bill as it currently stands would remove three exceptions from part of the present trademark law:
- News reporting and commentary.
- Fair use.
- Non-commercial use.
“Elimination of the news reporting and commentary protections would overnight put newspapers at much greater risk of trademark infringement actions being brought against them, for everything from a columnist’s or editorial writer’s ill-received reference to a company’s trademark, to, say, a news photograph of a homeless person’s shopping cart parked in front of a row of gleaming, readily identifiable new-model cars at the dealership of a well-known automaker.”
Steve Yahn. New Trademark Law Might Restrict Free Speech. Editor & Publisher. April 22, 2006.
Public Knowledge. The Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2005 (H.R. 683). No date.
CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the law, business, and technology of digital content. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.