Truth and Advertising: The Lanham Act and Commercial Speech Doctrine

TRADEMARK LAW AND THEORY: A HANDBOOK OF CONTEMPORARY RESEARCH, Graeme B. Dinwoodie and Mark D. Janis, eds., Elgar, 2008

39 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2007


The Lanham Act and its state counterparts in trademark and unfair competition law regulate speech in ways inconsistent with the current thrust of Supreme Court's commercial speech doctrine. The lines between confusing and informative uses of trademarks and between true and false advertising claims are difficult to draw, in ways that in other contexts - particularly libel doctrine - have led courts to impose increasing burdens on plaintiffs and regulators. I will discuss the First Amendment implications of distinguishing truth from falsity in commercial speech, applied to trademark infringement and to other types of false advertising. In addition, on a somewhat different note, I will consider trademark dilution, arguing that even a dilution law limited to classic nonconfusing uses of a famous mark on noncompeting goods is constitutionally deficient.

Keywords: trademark, false advertising, advertising law, dilution, first amendment, commercial speech

Suggested Citation

Tushnet, Rebecca, Truth and Advertising: The Lanham Act and Commercial Speech Doctrine. Available at SSRN:

Rebecca Tushnet (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics