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Trademark Law and the Prickly Ambivalence of Post-Parodies
University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online (2014)
  • Charles E. Colman
This Essay examines what I call "post-parodies" in apparel. This emerging genre of do-it-yourself fashion is characterized by the appropriation and modification of third-party trademarks — not for the sake of dismissively mocking or zealously glorifying luxury fashion, but rather to engage in more complex forms of expression. I examine the cultural circumstances and psychological factors giving rise to post-parodic fashion, and conclude that the sensibility causing its proliferation is one grounded in ambivalence. Unfortunately, current doctrine governing trademark parodies cannot begin to make sense of post-parodic goods; among other shortcomings, that doctrine suffers from crude analytical tools and a cramped view of "worthy" expression. I argue that trademark law — at least, if it hopes to determine post-parodies’ lawfulness in a principled, meaningful way — is asking the wrong questions, and that existing parody doctrine should be supplanted by a more thoughtful and nuanced framework.
  • trademark,
  • trade dress,
  • intellectual property,
  • infringement,
  • dilution,
  • First Amendment,
  • creativity,
  • expression,
  • political speech,
  • parody,
  • post-parody,
  • satire,
  • fashion,
  • theory,
  • history,
  • consumer culture,
  • counterculture,
  • subversive,
  • Hermes,
  • Homies,
  • Celine,
  • Feline,
  • Brian Lichtenberg,
  • Zevs,
  • ambivalence
Publication Date
August, 2014
Citation Information
Charles E. Colman. "Trademark Law and the Prickly Ambivalence of Post-Parodies" University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online Vol. 163 (2014)
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