Lanham Act Case Study

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Under the Lanham Act, a business has the right to market a product using a distinctive word, mark, slogan, etc. as long as its logo is a registered trademark. Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act protects trade dress, a guard to protect the design and shape of a particular product. However, it is important to note that this only protects against the copying of a design that is distinctive. In order for a product to be distinctive it must be inherently distinctive or have an acquired distinctiveness. In a number is disputes, distinctiveness has come into question. The case of Wal-Mart, Inc. v. Samara Brothers, Inc settled this question. Samara Brothers, Inc. is a designer and manufacturer of children 's clothing. Their primary outfits were spring and summer one-piece outfits, displaying an assortment of hearts, fruits, flowers, etc. Wal-Mart Stores,…show more content…
What this means is a consumer must equate the specific design to the maker of the product. Product design generally cannot be distinctive because consumers generally do not associate product to the source. In the hearing the court mentioned Qualitex V. Jacobson Products, which said colors can not be distinctive, and they do not immediately cause a consumer to think of a brand or product source. The court also asserted that product design cannot be inherently distinctive. This is because design is intended to make the product appealing, not to identify a brand. The Lanham Act does not include inherently distinctive marks. Justice Scalia was quoted saying the following, "Consumers should not be deprived of the benefits of competition with regard to the utilitarian and esthetic purposes that product design ordinarily serves by a rule of law that facilitates plausible threats of suit against new entrants based upon alleged inherent
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