When Imitation Is Not Flattering: Cultural appropriation in trademarks

If you practice trademark law, you know clients struggle with selecting unique, distinctive, and strong marks. Even if a mark is available for use and appears strong, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be used. We’ve seen the media backlash from marks that missed the mark: J’ouvert, Kimono, Redskins, Hakuna Matata, and Aloha. In this session, Nicole Gaither of SageHaus Legal will moderate a discussion with Katherine Belzowski of the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, Angela Grayson of Precipice IP, and Keely Herrick of KHerrick Law. The panel will answer questions such as:

  • What is cultural appropriation as applied to trademarks, and why does it matter?
  • How do cases like Matal v. Tam shape our understanding of what makes for an appropriate trademark?
  • What obligations do trademark practitioners have to clients and the general public in these controversial situations?
  • How should trademark practitioners approach this topic with clients who want to apply for culturally-sensitive trademarks?
CLE Pending Panel Trademark Practice