The Dilution of Culture and the Law of Trademarks

83 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2009 Last revised: 31 Mar 2015

See all articles by Katya Assaf Zakharov

Katya Assaf Zakharov

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law

Date Written: May 27, 2009

Abstract

The cultural meaning of a trademark is built up by creating associative links between the mark and various positive cultural signs such as freedom, youth and happiness. This article argues that these links are reciprocal. That is, while the trademark begins to carry some of the meaning of the cultural signs it has been linked to, these cultural signs also absorb some of the meaning of the mark. This article develops a semiotic model, which helps to analyze the flow of meaning from non-commercial cultural signs into trademarks and from trademarks into other contexts. It argues that, by protecting the cultural meaning of trademarks, the legal system encourages the commercialization of culture and reinforces the dominance of consumer culture in our society.

Keywords: trademarks, semiotics, umberto eco, culture, dilution, infringement, merchandising, post-sale confusion, intellectual property, economic rationales, social aspects, cultural aspects, marketing, rhetoric

JEL Classification: K11

Suggested Citation

Assaf Zakharov, Katya, The Dilution of Culture and the Law of Trademarks (May 27, 2009). IDEA: The Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 49, No. 1, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1410590

Katya Assaf Zakharov (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus, IL 91905
Israel

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