UC Law SF Communications and Entertainment Journal


Max Landaw


Since October 2009, the American judicial system has been posed with yet another lawsuit in the oft recurring battle between trademark protections and right to freedom of expression, specifically the right to parody. The Yes Men, a parody troop, in a stunt which confused numerous news outlets, held a press conference as "members" of the United States Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber responded by suing the Yes Men for, amongst other causes of action, trademark infringement pursuant to the Lanham Act. This note will first analyze the history of the debate between the conflicting right of free expression and consumer protection statutes, culminating in the author's proposal that government agencies and lobbyist groups such as the Chamber deserve more protection than other entitites due to their level of economic and political importance. This note recognizes the importance of First Amendment rights in the political landscape, but also recognizes the practical necessity of formulating distinctions between various types and potential effects of parody.