“BK” Trademark Ethics: Burger King or the Book of Kells?

business_ethics_highlights_2The rationale for trademark law has an ethical core: purchasers ought to be able to count on the mark to identify correctly the source (be it a retailer or manufacturer) of goods purchased. Consequently, the central question in trademark disputes is whether commercial use of the mark by one party would induce purchasers to confuse the other party as the source. Here, Burger King took an initially expansive view of confusion but, in a fit of sanity, conceded that purchasers were unlikely to mistake B(ook of) K(ells) merchandise for a side dish to their famous Whopper. >>>

LINK: Burger King Tried To Block Trademark Application For 1,200-Year-Old Gospel Manuscript (by Chris Morran in Consumerist)

While Burger King might be technically older than McDonald’s Corp., it’s certainly not older than the Book of Kells, a 9th Century illuminated manuscript of the New Testament Gospels. But when Trinity College Dublin tried to trademark the Book of Kells name and related “BK merchandise,” Burger King’s legal eagles objected, claiming it would infringe on the fast-food giant’s marks.
Trinity College was attempting to register a global trademark for the famed manuscript, which was created around 800 CE, so that it could raise funds to preserve the school’s collection of rare books.

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