Frank Isaac Schechter
Author of an article considered the birth of trademark dilution as a recognised theory
IP Hall of Fame inductee in 2006
In his extremely influential article The Rational Basis of Trademark Protection, Schechter challenged as outdated the idea that the function of a trademark is solely one of indicating source or origin. Instead, he argued that the primary function of trademarks is the creation and retention of custom. The value of the modern trademark, he said, lies “in its selling power”. He rejected the idea that a trademark’s sole function is to indicate source or origin of the goods to which it is affixed, contending that the role of a trademark in fact goes far beyond this. Schechter argued that certain trademark uses on non-competing goods do not trigger confusion, but nevertheless constitute a wrong against the trademark owner. It is from this groundbreaking article that the concept of “trademark dilution” developed in the US, leading to the passage of a number of state anti-dilution laws and ultimately the Federal Trademark Dilution Act.