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Trademarks of Privilege: Naming Rights and the Physical Public Domain

52 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2007  

Ann Bartow

Franklin Pierce Center for IP at UNH Law

Abstract

This paper critiques the branding and labeling of the physical public domain with the names of corporations, commercial products, and individuals. It suggests that under-recognized public policy conflicts exist between the naming policies and practices of political subdivisions, trademark law, and right of publicity doctrines. It further argues that naming acts are often undemocratic and unfair, illegitimately appropriate public assets for private use, and constitute a limited form of compelled speech. It concludes by considering alternative mechanisms by which the names of public facilities could be chosen.

Keywords: Trademarks, public domain, Lanham Act, naming rights, compelled speech

JEL Classification: K1, K2, K3, K4

Suggested Citation

Bartow, Ann, Trademarks of Privilege: Naming Rights and the Physical Public Domain. UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 40, p. 919, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=981199

Ann Bartow (Contact Author)

Franklin Pierce Center for IP at UNH Law

Two White Street
Concord, NH 03301
United States

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