Parodies and Trademark and Copyright Infringement


In today’s digital age, social media can provide instant results to marketing campaigns, sometimes creating explosive overnight success in ways that would have seemed like science fiction a generation ago.  One recent topic sending social media users atwitter involves creating controversial parodies of popular brands’ intellectual property (IP).  For example, GoldieBlox, Coinye, and Dumb Starbucks recently enjoyed media firestorms due in part to the fascination around the legality of parody IP use.  These cases have sparked interesting debates over the protected scope of parodies and how IP owners protect their IP rights.

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Dunstan H. Barnes, Ph.D., is an associate at Chicago-based McAndrews, Held & Malloy, where he focuses on patent, copyright and trademark litigation. He can be reached at 312-775-8000 or at

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