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Aesthetic design feature

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An Alternate Functionality Reality, Harold R. Weinberg Jan 2010

An Alternate Functionality Reality, Harold R. Weinberg

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

Trade dress law does not protect the appearance of a product design feature (e.g., a product's configuration) against unauthorized copying if the feature is functional, but may protect the appearance if the feature is nonfunctional. The functionality doctrine is intended to preserve competition in the market for a product incorporating a design feature that allegedly is protected by trade dress law, and to avoid conflicts between trade dress law and patent law. The Supreme Court last addressed the functionality doctrine in TrafFix Devices, Inc. v. Marketing Displays, Inc. The Court intended TrafFix to “choke off” anticompetitive trade dress ...


Trademark Law, Functional Design Features, And The Trouble With Traffix, Harold R. Weinberg Jan 2001

Trademark Law, Functional Design Features, And The Trouble With Traffix, Harold R. Weinberg

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

This article concerns trademark law's functionality doctrine and the Supreme Court's troublesome opinion concerning it in TrafFix Devices, Inc. v. Marketing Displays, Inc. The doctrine provides that if a producer's useful or aesthetic design feature is "functional," then competitors can lawfully copy it even if the feature otherwise would be protected against copying by trademark principles. In order to introduce the functionality doctrine and the trouble with TrafFix, it is helpful to describe the nature of design features, the simultaneous roles they may play as source-identifying trade symbols and as useful or aesthetic product elements, and trademark ...