Guilt by association – Trademark case addresses “dilution by tarnishment”
Abstract: In 1998, the international lingerie company that uses the trade name “Victoria’s Secret” sued a retail outlet that sold sex-related products and operated under a similar name. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that the plaintiff must show actual harm to its mark, rather than just a likelihood of harm. Congress then passed the Trademark Dilution Revision Act, which made “likelihood” sufficient. When the case returned to the district court, it applied the act and found a likelihood of dilution by tarnishment. The defendants appealed. This article discusses the results and the current status of the law.