by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 13th 2008 2:12pm
We've said it probably 100 times, but trademark was never designed to be about "ownership." Rather, it's always been about consumer protection from fraud: making sure that you didn't buy one product, believing it was made by someone else. Yet, unfortunately, trademark is often lumped into the category of "intellectual property" with patents and copyright, and that falsely leads people to believe that trademarks are about ownership and, with it, full control over the mark. That leads to some really questionable situations, where companies overreach in trying to block others from using their mark. Luckily, some courts are pushing back on this. Steven Hoy writes in to let us know that a European court has ruled that there's absolutely nothing wrong with a company using a competitor's trademark in an advertisement for comparative purposes, just so long as there's no confusion on the part of the customer. This is exactly the way it should be. Hopefully, we'll start seeing European courts use the good old "moron in a hurry" test more frequently. After all, that "moron in a hurry" trademark test was a European invention in the first place.
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