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Crossing the Line: When Trademarks and Free Expression Converge … or Conflict

Original air date: 1/10/18

Crossing the Line: When Trademarks and Free Expression Converge or Conflict Free expression issues are not new to trademark law. But, until recently, they have arisen mostly as a defense to infringement. Matal v. Tam, the June 2017 landmark Supreme Court decision that struck down as viewpoint discrimination the Lanham Acts disparagement clause, has brought the First Amendment front and center for trademark owners, users, and lawyers.

The Federal Circuit made the spotlight even brighter when, in December 2017, it invalidated the Acts immoral or scandalous clause in In re Brunetti. Just how important a role the First Amendment will play in trademark registration and protection is yet to be seen, but it is now clear that free expression protections reach beyond a defense to infringement claims.

Our speakers will discuss Matal v. Tam and In re Brunetti, their direct effect on trademark registration, and the possible fate of other statutory provisions. Our speakers also will cover areas of trademark law in which free expression has more traditionally played a role, including parody, fair use, and dilution.

Presented by:
Bennett Evan Cooper of Steptoe & Johnson LLP 
Michael Fretwell of Laubscher, Spendlove & Laubscher, P.C.