Keynote Address by SUPERFLEX at the Brand New World: Distinguishing Oneself in the Global Flow
UC Davis Law Review 2012 Symposium
University of California, Davis
October 4-5, 2012
Thursday, October 4
9:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Tactics of Distinction in the Global Flow
Law and economics scholars understand trademarks as devices that reduce consumer search costs by signaling the source of a product or service. But scholars in fields as diverse as anthropology and business management suggest that signaling source is just the beginning of the complex social and cultural work that brands and logos do. Brands tell a story, construct a community of users who are themselves co-creators of the brand, and serve as a vehicle for finding meaning, difference, identity, and connection in a global marketplace. This panel explores the complex social, psychological, and cultural role played by brands, and begins to consider how, more broadly understood, brands are in fact quite distinct from trademarks as lawyers understand them.
12:30-2 p.m.: Lunch, Mondavi Center - Vanderhoef Studio Theater
2:30-5 p.m.: Feeling Good by Buying Good(s): From Dolphin-Safe to Do No Evil
From Dolphin-Safe Tuna to Conflict-Free Diamonds, marks are increasingly being used to denote goods produced through practices that are sustainable or in accord with human rights. This panel explores a series of questions related to such uses. Can marks serve as indicators of morality? Can they improve products and processes, policing international trade? Who watches the watchers? What does certification mean when one group’s “fair trade” may not coincide with another group’s “fair trade”?
5 p.m.: Reception, refreshments
6:30 p.m.: Speaker's Dinner
Friday, October 5
9-11:30 a.m.: From Signatures to Trademarks: Seals, Stamps, Brands
Brands are becoming increasingly crucial to modern business, but they are as old as language itself. Used to establish prestigious identities or to connect goods with their makers, they can be found in signature seals, royal coins, artists’ anagrams, coat of arms, goods stamps, chops, guild marks, and more. By revisiting historical branding landscapes, this panel looks at what elements of these practices have been included, or excluded, from the object of modern trademark law, and why.
11:45-1 p.m.: Lunch
Presentation: "An ABC of Seeds: Advertising, Branding, and Certification in an Emergent Industry"
1:00-3:30 p.m.: Function Creep: Hybrids at the Borders of Trademarks
The relationship between trademarks and other forms of intellectual property, norm-based systems of credit and authorship, and tools for the protection of traditional knowledge is more nuanced than commonly appreciated. This panel explores how these boundaries overlap and "bleed," the hybrid constructs they generate, and the challenges they pose to current legal and commercial conceptions of brands.
3:45-6:15 p.m.: The Medium is the Brand
Technology intermediaries, from Amazon to Google, ebay to Facebook, and Groupon to Twitter offer new platforms for brand production and dissemination. At the same time, their architectures, from customer reviews to auctions to comparative advertising can undermine the ability of brand owners to fully control their brand. The symbiotic relationship between intermediaries and brands goes further--secondary liability for trademark infringement can stifle technological development itself.
6:30 p.m.: Speakers Dinner