I'm off to Santa Fe today to speak at a symposium organized by the University of Houston on “Trademark in Transition”. This is a slightly terrifying thing to do as I do not, in my heart of hearts, think of myself as a trademark lawyer.
The other presenters are Graeme Dinwoodie, Stacey Dogan, Bill Landes, Mark Lemley and Glynn S. Lunney, so I will be surrounded by many of the stars of US trademark law, not to mention Thomas McCarthy, author of the finest US trademark treatise. What am I doing in this august company? Well you might ask. And I did. It seems, according to the organizers, that I am on the program because they wanted something a bit 'offbeat'. Now 'offbeat' is not the first word you might think of when you think of trademark law, a subject whose charms center on its basically commonsensical approach to problems and the relatively high quality of the draftsmanship of the most important governing of its statutes, the Lanham Act. (Hey, you think the Lanham Act is bad, let me introduce you to environmental law!)
Emboldened by the organizers' admission as to the reason for my presence, I have written a weirder-than-usual paper called “When We Say US™, We Mean It” which discusses who if anyone owns a country's name, and ccTLD names, and related .com names. If nobody laughs in the wrong places, I may put it online after the conference, or I may wait until I get a more polished version.