Trademark & Branding Law

About Trademark & Branding Law

 Brand names such as COCA-COLA, NIKE, and APPLE are much more than trademarks: they are icons of modern culture.  The core of brand-name law is trademark law, the law governing fair and unfair competition regarding the words and symbols used by businesses for their goods and services. But in an information age, the law of brand names touches far more than hornbook trademark law, including social media branding practices that recruit consumers as soldiers in the corporate branding machine; disruptive technology that makes brand enforcement difficult; and cultural norms that treat brand names as symbols of social status and commentary, such as “this watch is the Mercedes of watches,” or the parodic song “Barbie Girl.” Any attorney who advises businesses in connection with product naming, marketing, or digital outreach should therefore have a solid grounding in the law of trademarks and branding. Accordingly, this course covers major topics in domestic trademark law, such as subject-matter, distinctiveness, genericness, the likelihood of confusion test, dilution, cybersquatting, false advertising, and enforcement. It also pays close attention to the interplay of technology and law. Finally, the course extends beyond book learning to employ realistic practice exercises that tie lawyering skills to the readings. Examples may include developing a brand, brand-name clearance, preparing a trademark registration, and enforcement. 


This course qualifies for skills credits. There is no curve. Grading will be based on class participation and a number of experiential projects such as trademark searching, applications, enforcement work, and more. These projects are designed to integrate your understanding of trademark and branding law, theory, practice, and professional values.

Revised Jan. 11, 2017