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Thursday, 29 February 2024 - 5.30pm
Location: 
Faculty of Law, LG17

Speaker: Dr Alvaro Fernandez-Mora, KCL

Abstract: As trade marks have evolved to perform an expressive function, courts and scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have devoted increased attention to elucidating when, and how, marks and speech interact. Three forms of interaction can be identified in European and US case law. First, in infringement litigation, a defendant can invoke speech with a view toward insulating from liability his unauthorized use of plaintiff’s mark for expressive purposes, usually for parody or commentary. Second, in trade mark registration, unsuccessful applicants can invoke speech to challenge the validity of a refusal of registration. And third, in constitutional challenges, a trade mark owner can invoke speech in seeking to strike down public measures encroaching on trade mark use. 
Regrettably, to date, commentators have had a tendency to focus on one form of interaction at a time, placing special emphasis on infringement cases. Their analyses and proposals for reform have privileged this form of interaction in an effort to avoid the severe repercussions that unbridled enforcement of trade mark rights could have on defendants’ speech. This has led to an impoverished understanding of the interaction between marks and speech, broadly considered. In the absence of comprehensive studies covering the diversity of instances where both sets of rights interact, conventional wisdom posits that their interaction is unidirectional, in the sense that trade mark rights chill expression. My ongoing research seeks to redress this misconception by engaging in a taxonomic analysis of the diverse scenarios in which marks and speech interact. Their joint study reveals that this interaction is best understood as a two-way street, where freedom of expression can simultaneously limit and validate trade mark rights. The proposed reconceptualization of the interaction between marks and speech can contribute significantly to the advancement of the field.

Biography: Dr Alvaro Fernandez-Mora is a Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at The Dickson Poon School of Law. Alvaro joined King's College London in 2024, having previously worked as a Lecturer in Law at the University of York (2021-2024). Alvaro has earned degrees from the University of Oxford (DPhil), Harvard Law School (LLM) and Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid ICADE (LLB). Before pursuing his doctoral studies, Alvaro worked as an associate lawyer at Hogan Lovells LLP’s intellectual property litigation department in Madrid. Alvaro's research interests lie at the intersection between intellectual property law and other fields –notably human rights, competition law and economics–, often from a comparative perspective. Alvaro's work has been published in the Berkeley Journal of International Law (BJIL), the International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law (IIC) or the Intellectual Property Quarterly (IPQ).

Followed by drinks in the basement atrium.

This event is a hybrid event. To attend online you must register via Zoom.

 

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