Comparative Advertising, Disparagement and Trademark Infringement: An Interface
7 VJLA 2012 (2) 18
33 Pages Posted: 3 May 2018
Date Written: November 13, 2011
Advertising pervades society and has become a persuasive force working on collective mentality of the public affecting their behaviour. Advertisements create brand image and reinforce it time and again. Traditionally, advertisers sought to present their goods and services in the most favourable light as possible, attempting to influence the public by highlighting the merits of their product or services. However, the early seventies of the last century, ushered a new era of advertising wherein comparative advertisements and commercials identified the competitors products by name. This has created new issues relating to unfair competition, disparagement and trademark infringement. For the purpose of proclaiming his goods as being the best in the world one might be tempted to compare the advantages of his goods over the goods of others. However, while saying his goods are better than his competitors’, can one be allowed to say that the competitors’ goods are bad? Does that not amount to slandering/disparaging the goods of his competitors? What if the goods advertised are actually better in quality than those of the competitors? Can a seller use a competitor’s trademark in advertisement while comparing the relative qualities of the competitive goods? Or would such use for the purpose of distinguishing and claiming superiority over the competitors’ product, in the course of advertisement without the permission of the trademark owner constitute trademark infringement? The paper seeks to analyse the intricacies of law involved in the concept of comparative advertising in relation with product disparagement and trademark infringement.
Keywords: comparative advertising, trademark infringement, disparagement
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation