Sunday, December 13, 2009

Interesting Take on Consumer Protection in Trademark

In Sunday's New York Times - 2009 Year in Ideas, there was this interesting piece titled The Counterfeit Self. (The #name tag should work, but if not, it's the 4th item down.)

It is not a surprise that small dishonesties insinuate themselves into a person's character, paving the way for greater ones; It's essentially the obverse of the Ben Franklin Effect applied to oneself. But (as far as I know) it hadn't been examined closely in terms of the purchase and "use" of counterfeit merchandise.

There's a running debate about the exact purpose of Trademark protection; Does it protect the consumer in terms of search costs? In terms of some sort of incohate warranty function? Or is it a matter of the manufacturer's property and sweat equity? Or some combination thereof.

I tend to understand it as something that started out as a consumer-protection issue (focusing on search cost) and then got morphed into an issue of manufacturer's property simply because of the way the consumer protection was enforced and analyzed.

I haven't wrapped my brain around exactly how it's going to happen, but it will be interesting to see how the idea of the article gets folded into arguments about the rationales for trademark protection and the breadth and strength of the protection necessary to support those rationales...

"Incredibly Overbroad trademark enforcement protects consumers from themselves!" I just threw up a little in my mouth.

On the plus side, I think I actually blogged about this before LoC, Duets, or CounterfeitChic. So go me!

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