Looking at the Lanham Act: Images in Trademark and Advertising Law

58 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2012 Last revised: 19 Jan 2012

Date Written: 2011


Words are the prototypical regulatory subjects for trademark and advertising law, despite our increasingly audiovisual economy. This word-focused baseline means that the Lanham Act often misconceives its object, resulting in confusion and incoherence. This Article explores some of the ways courts have attempted to fit images into a word-centric model, while not fully recognizing the particular ways in which images make meaning in trademark and other forms of advertising. While problems interpreting images are likely to persist, this Article suggests some ways in which courts could pay closer attention to the special features of images as compared to words.

Keywords: trademark, advertising, images

JEL Classification: K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Tushnet, Rebecca, Looking at the Lanham Act: Images in Trademark and Advertising Law (2011). Houston Law Review, Vol. 48, No. 4, p. 862, 2011, Georgetown Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-001, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1980127

Rebecca Tushnet (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

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