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Trademark Law, Functional Design Features, and the Trouble with TrafFix

By Harold R. Weinberg


Part One of this article briefly defines some terms employed throughout and provides a short review of trademark principles. Parts Two and Three employ different methodologies to illuminate the functionality doctrine and the significance of Traffix. Part Two develops the etymology of important functionality standards including those considered in Traffix. It highlights links among the standards, and between the standards and evidence of functionality. Part Two\u27s etymology suggests Part Three\u27s economic methodology. The strength of the economic lens amplifies and simplifies the doctrine while its limitations help to explain why the functionality doctrine has been problematic and why Traffix is troublesome. After summarizing the lessons of Parts Two and Three, Part Four discusses how courts may decide functionality cases with care, reason, and sensitivity; and how Traffix may affect this process. Part Five concludes the article with thoughts concerning Traffix\u27s future impact on trademark law and the functionality doctrine

Topics: trademark, design feature, functionality, Traffix, TrafFix, Inwood, Qualitex, cost effects, quality effects, commercial success, Intellectual Property Law
Publisher: Digital Commons @ Georgia Law
Year: 2016
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