The 2018 IPIL/Houston National Conference is the University of Houston Law Center’s 17th year of bringing together top intellectual property scholars from around the country in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The theme for this year’s conference was trademarks. The event was held on June 1–2, 2018, during which time five top trademark scholars presented their works-in-progress in a seminar-style setting that helped promote discussion.
The National Conference serves several purposes. It provides presenters with an opportunity to elicit in-depth feedback on their research from other presenters, commentators, and attendees. The conference also allows participants to explore a topic that is of mutual interest to them. Finally, it provides junior and senior scholars with an opportunity to get to better know each other in a beautiful setting.
It is my pleasure to briefly introduce this year’s scholars and their essays that resulted from the 2018 event. Stacey Dogan has written extensively in a trademark, copyright, and rights of publicity law. In Bounded Rationality, Paternalism, and Trademark Law, Professor Dogan uses behavioral economic theory to better understand the relationship between contemporary trademark law and consumer welfare. In particular, she considers how heuristics and biases play a role in consumer loyalty to brands.
Glynn S. Lunney, Jr. brings an economic perspective to trademark, copyright, and patent law. In Two-Tiered Trademarks, Professor Lunney discusses how entities that cannot afford to assert their own trademarks or defend themselves during disputes lose out on the benefits of the trademark system. He argues that the trademark system can be simplified to increase access to justice for small businesses and other shut-out groups.
William McGeveran researches in information law, including the intersection of trademark and privacy law. In Selfmarks, Professor McGeveran examines how personal identities can function like a trademark, a term he calls “selfmarks.” He proposes that the law formally recognize selfmarks and maintains that this could help to mitigate some of the problems that have arisen through state right of publicity laws.
Xuan-Thao Nguyen is the leading expert in the intersection of intellectual property and secured transactions. In The Puzzle in Financing with Trademark Collateral, Professor Nguyen and her co-author Erik D. Hille explore empirically the value of trademarks as corporate assets. She and her co-author find that overwhelming majority of banks are reluctant to use trademarks as collateral for loans to businesses, perhaps due to uncertainty in valuing and selling trademarks.
Finally, Lisa P. Ramsey’s scholarship has focused much of her career to studying First Amendment issues in trademark law. In Free Speech Challenges to Trademark Law after Matal v. Tam, Professor Ramsey considers what impact the Supreme Court’s decision in Matal v. Tam will have on First Amendment challenges to trademark laws. She maintains that post-Tam, decisionmakers should carefully examine how specific trademark provisions endanger free speech and should determine whether provisions advances important trademark goals and are narrowly drawn to avoid unduly harming speech rights.
I am pleased to recommend to the academy the works of these outstanding scholars in this 2018 Symposium Issue of the Houston Law Review.
Sapna Kumar: Law Foundation Professor, University of Houston Law Center. Professor Kumar is also a co-director of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Information Law.
In addition to the presenters whose papers are discussed below, Shontavia Johnson, Connie Powell Nichols, and Alexandra Roberts served as Fellows. We were also honored to be joined by University of Houston Law Center alumna Meg Boulware and Tamsen Valoir, both of Boulware & Valoir.