How disappointing is it that we actually are excited when a court has understood the proper role of trademarks? There are already too many people trying to expand the purpose of trademarks (with occasional success), that it's good to see at least some courts recognize the true purpose of trademarks. Mikester writes in to let us know that the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled against two large trademark holders, Mattel for their Barbie trademark and champaign maker Veuve Cliquot, as both tried to stop the use of their trademarked names in totally unrelated businesses. It seems that so many trademark holders want to believe that a trademark gives them all rights to whatever they trademarked, rather than just the right to prevent confusion or misleading use of the trademark in specific areas. Perhaps we should stop thinking of trademarks as being intellectual property -- because they're not. Trademarks are really about consumer protection; keeping consumers from being tricked into believing something is associated with a company that it's not. When we call it intellectual property, people automatically jump to conclusions about the level of protection the law grants -- and that leads to numerous wasteful lawsuits.
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