Prada Place

Do you think I should be allowed to create a housing development with street names based on luxury brands?

  • Maserati Drive
  • Prada Place
  • Armani Avenue
  • Tiffany Circle
  • Rolex Road

Here’s what the law says: “Any person who . . . [uses] any word . . . which is likely to cause confusion . . . as to the affiliation or association of such person with another person “[1] is infringing.

It sounds like I could use those street names because no one buying a lot from me would be confused into thinking that my development is affiliated with those famous luxury brands, but . . .

If you still think this is somehow wrong, you’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t be allowed to get the benefit of the luxurious feeling these brands convey in order to sell dirt in my housing development.

In fact, there’s a separate section of the law that allows the owner of a famous trademark to get an injunction against someone like me who uses their trademark in a way that “is likely to cause dilution[2] . . . of the famous mark, regardless of the presence or absence of actual or likely confusion . . ..”[3]

Famous trademarks have special rights that other trademarks don’t have and this story explains why. Even though everyone knows that Prada isn’t associated with my housing development, people would rather buy (and would probably be willing to pay more for) a lot on Prada Place rather than Peppermint Place. I would be taking unfair advantage of someone else’s valuable asset and that’s not OK.

 

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[1] 15 US Code Section 1125(a)(1)

[2] There are two kinds of “dilution”. “Dilution by blurring” happens pretty much whenever someone uses of a famous brand to promote or sell something without permission from the owner. “Dilution by tarnishment” happens when they use the famous brand to sell something that is kind of crappy. For example, if the housing development were a mobile home park.

[3] 15 US Code Section 1125(c)

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