Lamar Smith Not Stopping At Copyright Law; Wants To Make Trademarks Worse, Too
from the intellectual-property-smackdown dept
We’ve written a few stories recently about how too many people are trying to expand the boundaries of trademark law well beyond where they should be. The entire purpose of trademark law is not about “ownership” of your trademark, but to prevent consumer confusion. That is, so that one company can’t put out a product riding on the coattails of another — tricking users into believing it’s the other company’s product. I can’t release a Techdirt soda and call it Coca-Cola, because that could confuse people. It’s not supposed to be for preventing everyone else from ever using your trademark — though, in today’s age where the purpose of intellectual property is often misunderstood, that’s certainly the way many are trying to stretch trademark law. The latest, as pointed out by the EFF is a new bill on trademark law that completely guts many of the exceptions to trademark law. Specifically, it gets rid of exceptions for fair use, news reporting and commentary, and non-commercial use. There is no reasonable justification for this under the basis of what trademark law is designed to protect — except to give trademark holders more rights that they don’t need and which they’ll use to suppress perfectly reasonable actions. And who’s sponsoring the bill? None other than the same Congressman who’s trying to expand copyright laws in dangerous ways as well, Rep. Lamar Smith. Apparently, Rep. Smith is very focused on working as hard as possible to make intellectual property as stifling as possible. Update: There’s a good discussion in the comments about the wording of the bill that suggests the original articles were misreading the bill. The new bill doesn’t completely elminate those exceptions — but limits them only to cases involving dilution of trademark, as opposed to across all trademark cases.