In this Intellectual Property Viewpoints series, we tend to focus on copyright and patent law – the “big two” IP regimes that govern innovation in the arts and sciences. But there is a third IP regime, a cousin to copyright and patent, which is important to almost any enterprise, even if its business has nothing to do with innovation. That’s trademark law.

Over the last several decades, trademark law has grown from its modest roots and experienced an expansion that rivals that of its more high-profile cousins. In this essay and the next, I will discuss this phenomenon, and in particular an emerging tension within trademark law that might act as a natural limit on its continued expansion. [...]

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