Honoring International Obligations in U.S. Trademark Law: How the Lanham Act Protects Well-Known Foreign Marks (and Why the Second Circuit Was Wrong)
67 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2008 Last revised: 25 Mar 2011
Date Written: June 20, 2008
Although the United States has obligated itself to protect foreign “well-known” marks under the terms of Article 6bis of the Paris Convention and elsewhere, the extent to which that obligation is practically available to foreign mark owners in U.S. courts has yet to be clearly established under domestic law. In particular, two federal appellate courts have diverged sharply on whether the Lanham Act provides a remedy for an owner of a mark that has not been used in commerce in the United States, even if that mark is well known to U.S. consumers (or a subset thereof).
This article explores the international obligation to protect well-known marks and then demonstrates how the Lanham Act does, in fact, provide for protection of marks well known to U.S. consumers, even if the mark has not been used in commerce here. The article addresses in detail the issue of standing to bring a claim under section 43(a) of the Lanham Act and its connection to section 44. It also thoroughly considers a number of concerns related to the territorial nature of trademark law and trademark goodwill and explains the consistency of protecting well-known foreign marks with the principles of territoriality.
Keywords: well known mark, 6bis, paris convention, trademark
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