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Clearing Up Some Confusion About Dilution

A Reply to Hal Poret

Barton Beebe, Roy Germano, Chris Sprigman, and Joel H. Steckel

In this short commentary, we reply to Hal Poret’s critique of a series of experiments on trademark dilution that we summarized in this journal back in 2019.

In our view, Poret's critique omits important findings from both our University of Chicago Law Review article and The Trademark Reporter ("TMR") commentary that summarized it; we'll correct the record here. But perhaps more importantly, we'll engage with Poret on the basic question of what empirical work in trademark dilution litigation is meant to accomplish. To do that, we'll delve (briefly) into the shaky conceptual foundations of trademark dilution. As we'll see, Poret's response (the "Response") is founded upon the same conceptual confusion and unsupported presumptions about the works of human cognition that beset current thinking about trademark dilution generally. These difficulties are resolvable only with empirical investigation, which our original article attempted to provide.