Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control Culture

Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control Culture" (John Wiley & Sons, February 2005) One of the most serious threats to creativity, free speech and democratic culture is coming from an explosive expansion of copyright law, trademark law and related fields such as "publicity rights" and Internet policies. The scope of this threat is often not seen because it occurs in such isolated ways: McDonald's attacking McVegan, McSushi and other food establishments that dare to use the prefix "Mc" in their name; Mattel threatening lawsuits against unauthorized depictions of Barbie dolls on the Web; the Disney Company demanding that hand-painted images of Mickey and Goofy be removed from day care center walls. The propertization of creativity and culture has reached such extremes that a tennis ball manufacturer has won a trademark on the "smell of freshly cut grass" as used on tennis balls, the Ralph Lauren fashion house has sued to prevent the U.S. Polo Association from using the word "polo," and a prominent yoga instructor has claimed a copyright in a series of yoga postures. Learn how "brand-name bullies" are abusing intellectual property law to lock up culture and destroy the cultural commons.