Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


In the last nine years, the United States Supreme Court decided four cases that concern trade dress and the doctrine of functionality. With these decisions, the Court broadened the doctrine of functionality and narrowed the protection available for product configuration. The Court correctly held that the protection for a product's trade dress should not be as high as the protection for its trademark because consumers do not expect trade dress to function as trademarks do in identifying a product and its source. The author concludes that the Court has redefined the protection of trademark interests in these four cases so that the needs of consumers are paramount over the interests of market competitors.