Register Confusing Uses Of Intellectual Property

11–28 September 2002 / Casco HQ

From 11–28 September, agency shows its register of confusing uses of intellectual property at Casco. The register presented is limited to trademarks and will be expanded to include copyrights, publicity rights and patents in the future.  

The register consists of various elements: an agency, an online database, an archive and a series of events. The agency collects stories on confusing uses of trademarks based on court cases. These stories are then entered into the database. The actual signs (words, images, forms, colors, sounds, and smells) that were at stake in these court cases can be found in the archive. Moreover, the archive contains a tangible product or reference to the respective service of each of the trademarks. A series of events augments the collected data with testimonies, guided tours, debates and meetings.  

Trademark law is based on the principle of “distinguishing capacity.” The “distinguishing capacity” is intended to help consumers avoid confusion concerning the origin and quality of products in the consumer market. However, in practice the principle of distinction is primarily used to exclude meanings other than the unequivocal trademark owner’s meaning. Multiple connotations cannot be legally linked to a single brand. They are seen as dilutions of a brand’s distinguishing capacity. This makes any possible critical, playful or ironic use of a trademark impossible.  

agency registers confusing uses of trademarks thereby assembling a collection of the officially absent meanings of protected trademarks. The register undermines the fabricated unequivocal meaning of a trademark and opens the legal justification of distinction to debate.  

agency is an international and interdisciplinary network of user alliances and cooperations. Since 1999, agency has been compiling a database on uses of property, an archive on the conflicts between the public and private realms. agency develops this archive step by step through collaborations. Recently, agency’s archive has focused its research on uses of intangible intellectual properties. http://www.agency-computer.com

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