The Changing Landscape of Trademark Law in Tinseltown: From Debbie Does Dallas to The Hangover
Hollywood and the Law, (Palgrave Macmillan/British Film Institute Press, 2015)
22 Pages Posted: 26 May 2016 Last revised: 13 Jan 2017
Date Written: March 7, 2016
This Essay, a chapter published in the book Hollywood and the Law (Palgrave Macmillan / British Film Institute, 2015), explores how courts have sought to balance the competing interests at stake when filmmakers make unauthorized uses of trademarks in their work and brand owners threaten liability for infringement. Using the seminal Rogers v. Grimaldi decision as a key pivot point, the Essay traces the remarkable change in approaches that courts have taken to First Amendment defenses in trademark cases in the past few decades. In presenting case studies of two opinions -- Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Inc. v. Pussycat Cinema, Ltd. (decided a decade before Rogers) and Louis Vuitton v. Warner Bros. (decided two decades after Rogers) -- the Chapter contextualizes the growing judicial recognition of free speech defenses by filmmakers, the critical limitations of this solicitousness to artistic choice, and the way in which this trend may have impacted the artistry and economics of Hollywood.
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