A couple of idiosyncratic highlights for me so far include:
- Tom Lee’s empirical analysis of how consumers perceive the semantic or linguistic content of trademarks as opposed to their context (as in placement on packaging). While it only addresses certain kinds of situations–that is, situations where there is lots of context available for the consumer–it provided interesting data.
- Laura Heymann’s presentation about the law’s treatment of personal names and how it does or does not resemble the regime for trademark law, with a focus on the interaction between denotative (source-based) and connotative (association-based) meanings of both types of names. Legal regulation (or lack of it) of name changes of both kinds raises fascinating issues.
- Lisa Ramsey’s discussion of brandjacking on social network sites, which can lead to serious harms but maybe not the kind of harm trademark law addresses. (I wondered if it is possible to make a clean and principled distinction between impersonation of a trademark or its holder vs. a misleading association with one.)
- My good friend Jessica Silbey’s analysis, based on narrative theory, of the rhetoric used by “access movements” such as Free Culture, A2K, free software activism, and the like. She finds that these protests against existing IP law ironically share certain key features of the traditional story told to support expanded IP rights.
- Mark Lemley and Mark McKenna’s article, “Irrelevant Confusion,” which I think is destined to become a watershed in trademark scholarship.
- James Grimmelmann’s presentation of a piece he is writing with Paul Ohm where they identify a coherent school of thought within cyberlaw they call (for now) “architecturalism,” typified by Jonathan Zittrain’s recent book.
Surely others would make different lists out of the nearly 100 papers. (Maybe someone might even pick mine!). As usual, Rebecca Tushnet is providing great live-blogging of the sessions she attends. Thanks to the organizers for an incredibly stimulating event.