Co-Branding, Commercial Tie-Ins and Celebrity Endorsements

Daniel L. Rogna
Roger Goff, Partner, Wolf Rifkin Shapiro Schulman Rabkin, LLP

Intellectual property law is often a reflection of the delicate balance between personal freedom and commerce. The individual’s right to free expression of ideas is a primary tenet of our political system and national culture. However, equally central to our way of life is each individual’s ability to gather wealth and property through commercial activities. The amalgamation of these sometimes competing goals is at the heart of much of the practice of intellectual property law.

Trademark protection is very much driven by commercial factors. The essential goal of most trademark law is to incentivize trademark owners to build the value of their respective brands by protecting their exclusive right to derive the economic benefits from the use of those brands. The majority of those benefits are derived from the sale of products and services under brand names. However, as mass communication capabilities have expanded over the past several decades, it has become increasingly popular for trademark owners to derive additional benefit from their marks by allowing others to use those marks as a means of increasing revenues in their own (non-competing) businesses. This relationship and these goals form the essence of trademark licensing.

In the film and television industries, the use of trademarks provides some unique benefits, along with some particular challenges.

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