Trademarks help us navigate the consumer marketplace. They help tie creators with products, giving us confidence that the object we see on a shelf comes from a trusted source. They also act as status symbols, expressive statements of group loyalty, team affiliation, and social aspiration. Taken to an extreme, they can chill speech and limit expression. Without them, the marketplace would be a jumble of confusion, limited to goods sold directly by their original creators.
In addition to the work described on this page, Engelberg Center Co-Director Barton Beebe is the author of Trademark Law: An Open-Source Casebook, an open access trademark textbook offered for free and used by a large number of institutions.