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Abstract

Comedian Nathan Fielder opened a coffee shop which looked like a Starbucks, but he put the word “dumb” in front of the Starbucks name. Fielder justified his behavior based on the argument that he had created a parody of Starbucks. This article explores when a parody of a trademark may be entitled to protection under the First Amendment. If so, what are the limits of this protection, especially when a trademark holder argues that the parody is diluting his or her trademark by either blurring or tarnishment? The article analyzes federal statutes and judicial decisions. It concludes with recommendations to improve U.S. trademark law.

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