THE MYTH OF BUICK ASPIRIN: AN EMPIRICAL STUDY OF TRADEMARK DILUTION BY PRODUCT AND TRADE NAMES.

Paul J. Heald, Robert Brauneis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Trademark dilution is a highly controversial cause of action that has been the subject of hundreds of law review articles, but no significant scientific work. We analyze sixty years of telephone white pages, corporate and LLC naming data, advertisements from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, state and federal trademark databases, and all recorded dilution litigation. Our data strongly suggest that famous trademarks are frequently borrowed for use as trade names in services, but almost never as trade marks on products. Given that Congress based anti-dilution legislation on the assumption that uses like "BUICK Aspirin" were common, our conclusions are significant. Our data also show that state and federal anti-dilution laws likely have had some effect in the significant decline in brand sharing that we chart. We conclude by examining the still-widespread phenomenon of brand sharing and find that recent psychological studies help explain why the harm allegedly caused by unauthorized sharing (denominated "dilution" by Congress) is unlikely ever to occur.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2533-2577
Number of pages45
JournalCardozo Law Review
Volume32
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011

Keywords

  • UNITED States
  • TRADEMARK dilution
  • TRADEMARKS -- Law & legislation
  • BRAND name products -- Law & legislation
  • BRANDING (Marketing)
  • LEGISLATION

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