Ensuring Consumers 'Get What They Want': The Role of Trademark Law

19 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2015

Date Written: May 13, 2008


This paper was presented as the Third Annual Herchel Smith Lecture on Intellectual Property Law at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge in May 2008. It considers how modern trademark law should interpret the commitment in the legislative history to the 1946 (US) Lanham Act that one of the principal purposes of trademark law is "to protect the public so that it may be confident that, in purchasing a product bearing a particular trademark which it favorably knows, it will get the product which it asks for and which it wants to get". The Lecture first looks back to highlight the often under-appreciated role of the consumer protection rationale in recent expansions in trademark protection in the United States, and then considers some of the different ways by which that basic objective might now be pursued by trademark law. The Lecture concludes that, without disregarding the core consumer protection purpose of trademark law, we need to start viewing the question of ensuring consumers get what they want both with a broader view of consumer interests and with more explicit attention to a wider array of values implicated by trademark protection.

Keywords: consumers, confusion, producers, trademarks, unfair competition

JEL Classification: K10, K11, K20

Suggested Citation

Dinwoodie, Graeme B., Ensuring Consumers 'Get What They Want': The Role of Trademark Law (May 13, 2008). Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 34/2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2613160

Graeme B. Dinwoodie (Contact Author)

Chicago-Kent College of Law ( email )

565 West Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661
United States

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