Thursday, 3 April 2008

Seconded life...

Copy and use this adbuster - parody is allowed by Californian law.


IBM to host private Second Life regions

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1 comment:

Forelle Broek said...

By way of clarification (and definitely not by way of offering legal advice, which I'd never do in the form of a blog comment!), in the U.S. the use of trademarks is primarily governed by federal law (namely the "Lanham Act"), not state law.

Under the Lanham Act, a trademark owner may sue for infringement or dilution only against unauthorized commercial uses of the trademark. Also, for an infringement claim, the owner must prove that the "use is likely to cause confusion" -- i.e. likely to lead consumers mistakenly to believe that the trademark owner has authorized or sponsored the infringing use. The anti-dilution provisions of the Lanham Act apply only to "famous marks".

Parody is not necessarily a a defense to a trademark infringement or dilution act. But, where the parody is not commercial in nature, and is for the purpose of making some editorial comment on the brand, courts have commonly recognized a defense under the "fair use" provisions of the Lanham Act.

I'll stop there, because it really would be improper for me to offer an opinion as to how these principals apply in a particular case. But I'm confident that other readers can draw their own sensible conclusions!

P.S. For an entertaining example of a company backing down after over-reacting to a parody of its trademarked name, see here.