Trademark

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
doctors, study, trademark

Companies:
blue cross blue shield



Blue Cross / Blue Shield Says Study Pointing Out Failures Of Its Doctors... Violates Its Trademark

from the that's-not-how-tardemark-works dept

Don't mean to sound like a broken record, but the purpose of trademark is consumer protection from confusion. The idea is that someone shouldn't be able to sell you "Bob's Cola," while labeling it "Coca Cola," because that's a form of fraud on consumers. Tragically, over the last few decades, lawyers have been able to reposition trademark law not as a "consumer protection" law, but as "intellectual property." This leads trademark holders to increasingly pretend that trademark law grants them additional rights and abilities and to use trademark law in ways that simply are not granted under the law.

For example, the Massachusetts Blue Cross/Blue Shield apparently thinks that you can't publish a study criticizing its doctors without permission thanks to trademark law. The company's VP of Communications contacted the authors of the study (which pointed out that BCBS doctors didn't always respond well to patients needing psychiatric care), telling them:
We are VERY concerned about the use of BCBSMAs name and brand in a published study without BCBSMA authorization. Wed like to talk with you about that.
You may be concerned, but shouldn't you be a bit more concerned about the results of the study that call into question the practices of your doctors? Because the use of the name is perfectly legal and in no way touches on trademark law. No moron in a hurry is going to have a "likelihood of confusion" here, thinking that this study was somehow a product of BCBSMA. And, of course, in trying to intimidate the study's authors, all BCBSMA has done is... draw a lot more attention to the study and the reported failings of the organization.

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  1. identicon
    MrWilson, 27 Jul 2011 @ 10:04am

    Re:

    Just when you think they've hit rock bottom, someone pulls out a fancy drilling machine and goes for broke.

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