Trademark Law and the Prickly Ambivalence of Post-Parodies

Colman, Charles
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U. Pa. L. Rev.
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-notf or 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 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 meaningful way-is asking the wrong questions, and that existing 'parody" doctrine should be supplanted by a more thoughtful and nuanced framework.
Charles E. Colman, Trademark Law and the Prickly Ambivalence of Post-Parodies, 163 U. Pa. L. Rev. Online 11, 60 (2014-2015)
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