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How Trademark Law Casts A Dark Cloud Over Free Speech

The Citizen Media Law Project is preparing the intellectual property sections of its legal guide. An article by Professor Bill McGeveran provides some grist for the mill, raising questions about "free-expression-related defenses to trademark claims."

From the Citizen Media Law Project blog...

Bill McGeveran, a University of Minnesota law professor and friend of the CMLP, has published his article, "Four Free Speech Goals for Trademark Law" in the Media & Entertainment Law Journal, volume 18 (available at SSRN). The article makes a compelling case that, while courts in trademark cases ultimately tend to reach results that protect free speech against trademark overreaching, they do so in a muddled way that makes it hard to resolve cases quickly and cheaply and leaves speakers vulnerable to bullying through cease-and-desist letters.

We've had a copy of this article for a while, and I've been using it to get my head around how trademark law might affect the speech activities of bloggers, citizen media creators, and other online publishers. We are launching the intellectual property sections of our legal guide at the end of this month, and a number of the new sections take up the intersection between trademark law and freedom of speech. Professor McGeveran's article has been extremely useful, but also -- um -- slightly disheartening: Continued...

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Please join us on May 6 for a luncheon talk from the CMLP! They'll be giving us an update on all they've been up to.

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