Art and Architecture, Sweet Nothings

Trademark This?

This camera lens with residue of a lipstick smooch is a shot I’ve seen imitated several times – if you can’t trademark this style of photograph, why can you trademark phrases?

Last week I was contacted out of the blue by someone asking me to change one of my posts because part of the title was actually a trademarked name. This person asked very politely so I was more than happy to oblige, but afterwards I couldn’t help thinking about all the other words and phrases I might be asked to remove from this site should everyone in the world decide to vigilantly enforce their trademarks…On one hand I think trademarks are handy little things that protect artists and businesses from misrepresentation and/or getting their names stolen, but on the other hand trademarks carve a slippery slope because they’re essentially restricting the way we use words. For example, the title I was asked to change was a spur-of-the-moment concoction I came up with in the alliteration headquarters of my brain. This is a place where I frequently let my thoughts run wild when coming up with titles, and I shudder thinking of how hampered my creative process would be if while naming things or simply stringing together sentences I always had the looming fear that I had to write only combinations of words that were not trademarked…

I like the idea of giving every human’s mind the freedom to wander wherever it pleases, yet I strongly believe in the importance of protecting intellectual property and ensuring artists get credited/paid properly for their work. So, the question is this: where do you think our society and governing bodies should draw the line between creation and imitation? Do you currently hold trademarks, patents, or the rights to any other kind of intellectual property? Do you have your own rules for enforcing them? I’d love to hear your perspective!

Photo via Pinterest…Please tell me if you know the name of the artist behind this shot, because I would love to give him/her link love and credit in the spirit of this post.

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  • Reply Pat Oey June 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    This is a huge, complicated quagmire of legal ramifications, most of which are beyond me…But I do know that so much of our music today and our stories/novels/literature would not exist if artists had not been able to creatively borrow signatures and themes from works that had gone before…

  • Reply Jennifer R. Coté June 8, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    You are so right about the trickiness of this issue, Pat. And, I love your point about all the brilliant art that has come from imitation in one sense or another. We all borrow and do variations on a theme. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective!

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