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Trademark Law and Status Signaling: Tattoos for the Privileged

23 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2006 Last revised: 27 Nov 2009

Jeffrey Lynch Harrison

University of Florida - Levin College of Law

Date Written: January 10, 2007

Abstract

The principal function of trademarks is to lower consumer confusion and, consequently, search costs. For example, a traveler knows certain things without further inquiry if he or she sees a Ritz-Carlton, a Holiday Inn, or even a McDonalds sign along the highway. In these instances, there is communication from the owner of the mark to potential customers.

Trademarks are also used as a means for individuals to communicate information about themselves to others. Very typically, the signaling relates to status or wealth. Courts have held that this function of trademarks is something the law should advance. This Article makes the case that there appear to be little or no economic or moral bases for a public policy of supporting the efforts of the privileged to advertise, signal, or communicate their status to others.

Keywords: trademark, economics, veblen, pareto

JEL Classification: K11, K29, D61

Suggested Citation

Harrison, Jeffrey Lynch, Trademark Law and Status Signaling: Tattoos for the Privileged (January 10, 2007). Florida Law Review, Vol. 59, No. 3, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=930180 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.930180

Jeffrey Lynch Harrison (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

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