A Handbook of Contemporary Research
Edited by Graeme B. Dinwoodie and Mark D. Janis
Chapter 5: The political economy of trademark dilution
4 Trade mark bureaucracies Robert Burrell* I. Introduction Academic discussions of the justifications for trade mark protection have focused on the arguments that trade marks reduce consumer search costs1 and protect against misappropriation of other traders’ labour and investment.2 One thing that is striking about these justifications, however, is that they provide little explanation of trade mark registration. This disjuncture between the standard justifications for trade mark protection and the existence and operation of registered trade mark systems is significant, because having a registered trade mark system requires a substantial expenditure of resources. Most obviously, a registered trade mark system requires the existence of a bureaucracy to process applications for registration. Less obvious costs flow from having a special class of lawyers (that is, “trade mark agents” or “trade mark attorneys”) who * Associate Professor and Associate Director for Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture, the University of Queensland, TC Beirne School of Law. My thanks go to Graeme Austin, Lionel Bently, Michael Handler, Charles Lawson and Kimberlee Weatherall. 1 See, e.g., WILLIAM LANDES & RICHARD POSNER, THE ECONOMIC STRUCTURE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW Ch. 7 (2003); Nicholas Economides, The Economics of Trademarks, 78 TRADEMARK REP. 523, 525–6 (1988); I.P.L. Png & David Reitman, Why Are Some Products Branded and Others Not?, 38 J.L. & ECON. 207 (1995). By allowing consumers to identify products they have enjoyed in the past, trade marks also, on this view, provide traders with incentives to compete on grounds other than price by developing products with particularly...
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