A cease-and-desist letter is a tool commonly used by corporations in their efforts to vindicate the rights they hold in protected words and symbols associated with their business and reputation. Some defend the use of cease-and-desist letters as an effective vehicle. to quickly address legitimate claims of infringement. Others complain that the legitimate use of cease-and-desist letters is increasingly encroached upon by letters that grossly overstate legal claims in an effort to achieve results through intimidation. The proponents and detractors of the use of cease-and-desist letters likely would agree that the rights such letters seek to protect, the law interpreting those rights, and the use of the letters in protection of those rights are complicated by the exponential growth of e-commerce, and that the rise in do-it-yourself e-commerce only compounds the challenges.This article examines the consequences of a notorious and controversial cease-and-desist letter from several perspectives. The letter is a helpful mechanism to understand a specialized grant of trademark rights associated with the Olympic Games, and how those rights might fail to protect the varying interests of the trademark holders, commercial actors, and the public; some modest suggestions explore alternative ways of conceptualizing and vindicating the rights at stake. The article concludes by assessing the letter and subsequent controversy for helpful lessons on lawyering, including the benefits of careful advocacy and creative business approaches, particularly in an e-commerce environment.
Trademark Unraveled: The U.S. Olympic Committee Versus Knitters of the World.
Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology.
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