Trademark Fair Use

Recently, Anheuser-Busch (Busch) took issue with use of its registered Budweiser trademark in the film “Flight.”  Unfortunately for Busch, trademark registration does not prevent non-commercial use of a registrant’s mark or product.  Rather, non-commercial use of, or commenting upon, a registered trademark is protected by the doctrine of fair use.

Whereas a valid patent prevents others from making, using, selling, or offering for sale a product without permission of the patent owner, trademarks are actually intended to identify the source of a particular good for consumers.  Trademark registration can be used to prevent others from marking their products with the registrant’s trademark.  In other words, the trademark registrant controls use of the mark itself, not the product after it has been marked and entered the stream of commerce.  Thus, Busch faces an uphill battle to prove that consumers would be confused as to the source of the goods used in the film.

If you have questions regarding trademark registration, or how patent protection can be combined with trademark registration to fortify intellectual property protection for your products, call one of the experienced patent and trademark attorneys at Mohr Intellectual Property Law.

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