Analysis of the Critical Use of Trademark in Films under the Realm of Lanham Act


  • Wariya Lamlert National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA)


Trademark, Film, Infringement, Fair Use, The Lanham Act


Trademarks are also featured prominently in films. Filmmakers’ reputation and goodwill may be damaged and held responsible for the disregard or harmful use of a brand. When the use of a trademark mistakenly leads consumers to believe that the use of the trademark has been approved or sponsored by the owner, a legal problem may arise. Therefore, use brand products so as not to offer or imply sponsorship by the proprietor. This article therefore aims to examine the critical use of trademarks in films and the extent to which a trademarked image can be included in a film. The research findings show that infringement of the Lanham Act could not pose a direct risk to film producers. The way the film producers refer to an existing trademark determines whether or not they are responsible for the violation of trademarks or for public dissatisfaction. However, the trademark law includes exceptions which make it possible to use the existing trademarks fairly without any problems. The fair use doctrine permits the limited use of a trademark without permission from the owner and provides for nominative use and parody. In addition, a notice of ownership of marks or trademarks used in the production can be included in long distances in a dispute.


Briahna Gray, ‘E.S.S. Entm't 2000, Inc., v. Rock Star Videos, Inc.: Court Declares “Grand Theft” Crime Free’ (JOLT digest, 10 November 2008) <> accessed 10 May 2019
‘Caterpillar Inc. v. Walt Disney Co., 287 F. Supp. 2d 913 (C.D. Ill. 2003)’ (JUSTIA US Law, 20 October 2003) <> accessed 11 May 2019
César Joel Ramírez-Montes, ‘The extent to which trademarks are protected against dilution in Mexico and the United States’ (Master of Studies in Legal Research Thesis, the University of Oxford, Faculty of Law) <> accessed 11 May 2019
Cori Phelan, ‘Hormel Foods Corp. v. Jim Henson Productions, Inc., 73 F.3d 497 (2d Cir. 1996)’ (2016) 2 DePaul Journal of Art, Technology & Intellectual Property Law 313 <> accessed 11 May 2019
‘Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Inc. v. Pussycat Cinema Ltd.’ (Case of interest, 16 November 2010) <> Accessed 11 May 2019
Elaine Czach, Court says “George of the Jungle 2” does not infringe CATERPILLAR’ (The International Trademark Association, 15 November 2003) <> accessed 11 May 2019
Elizabeth L. Rosenblatt, ‘Rethinking the parameters of trademark use in entertainment’ 2009 (61) Florida Law Review 1011 <> accessed 11 May 2019
‘'Empire' TV series doesn't infringe trademark of Empire Distribution music label’ (The Volokh conspiracy, 2 August 2016) <> accessed 11 May 2019
‘ESS Entertainment v. Rock Star Videos, 444 F. Supp. 2d 1012 (C.D. Cal. 2006)’ (Court Listener,28 July 2006) <> accessed 11 May 2019
Eugene Pak, ‘Defenses to a Dilution Claim Under the FTDA’ (October 2004) <> accessed 11 May 2019
‘Freedom of expression’ (ACLU) <> accessed 11 May 2019
‘Ginger Rogers, Plaintiff-appellant, v. Alberto Grimaldi, Mgm/ua Entertainment Co., and Peaproduzioni Europee Associate, S.r.l., Defendants-appellees, 875 F.2d 994 (2d Cir. 1989)’ (JUSTIA US Law, 5 May 1989) <> accessed 11 May 2019
‘Hormel Foods Corporation – 2 for 1 stock split futures symbol: HRL1D’ (The Options Clearing Corporation, 1 February 2016) <> accessed 10 May 2019
‘Hormel Foods Corporation, Plaintiff-appellant, v. Jim Henson Productions, Inc., Defendant-appellee, 73 F.3d 497 (2d Cir. 1996)’ (JUSTIA US law) <> accessed 10 may 2019
‘How to use brands and products in film’ (Rodriques Law, Business and Entertainment Attorneys, Jun 29, 2017) <> accessed 9 May 2019
Jessica S. Sachs, ‘Misuse of “Slip ‘N Slide” Toy in Film Not Actionable’ (The International Trademark Association, 1 January 2004) accessed 11 May 2019
Joel Timmer, ‘The depiction of trademarked landmarks in fictional films: Protecting filmmakers from infringement and dilution liability’ 2016 (15) J. MARSHALL REV. INTELL. PROP. L. 676 <> accessed 11 May 2019
Kieran G. Doyle and Jill K. Tomlinson, ‘Brands on the silver screen, the television screen and the computer screen’ in Kieran G. Doyle and Sheldon H. Klein, Advance seminar on trademark law 2010 (Practice Law Institute <> accessed 10 May 2019
Lauren P. Smith, ‘Trademarks and the movies: An Af-'fair use to remember’ 2000 (48) Cleveland State Law Review 415 <> accessed 11 May 2019
Margaret M. Morrow, ‘ESS ENTERTAINMENT v. Rock Star Videos, 444 F. Supp. 2d 1012 (C.D. Cal. 2006)’ (Court Listener, 28 July 2006) <> accessed 10 May 2019
Mark Lemley and Stacey L Dogan, ‘Grounding trademark law through trademark use’ 2007 (92) Iowa law review 1669 <> accessed 11 May 2019
Mattel INC v. MCA Records INC’ (FindLaw for professionals) <> accessed 12 May 2019
Paul Edward Kim, ‘Preventing dilution of the Federal Trademark Dilution Act: Why the FTDA requires actual economic harm’ 2001 (150) University of Pennsylvania Law Review 719 <> accessed 11 May 2019
Ross D. Petty, ‘Initial interest confusion versus consumer sovereignty: A consumer protection perspective on trademark infringement’ 2008 (3) The Law Journal of the International Trademark Association 757 <> accessed 11 May 2019
‘The University of Alabama Board of Trustee v. New Life Art INC Daniel Moore’ (FindLaw for legal professionals, 11 June 2012) <> accessed 11 May 2019
Tulip Mahaseth, ‘The best defense is a good offense nominative fair use and other defenses to trademark infringement’ (Anti Piracy & Anti Counterfeit Blog, 26 February 2019) <> accessed 11 May 2019
‘Using brands and products in film’ (Arts Law Centre of Australia 2013) <> accessed 9 May 2019
Van Graafeiland, ‘Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Inc. v. Pussycat Cinema, Ltd.’ (United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 14 August 1979) <> accessed 11 May 2019
Van Graafeiland, ‘Hormel Foods Corp. v. Jim Henson Prods., 73 F.3d 497 (2d Cir. 1996)’ <> accessed 11 May 2019
‘What is intellectual property?’ (World Intellectual Property Organization) <> accessed 9 May 2019
‘Why is Ben & Jerry’s sponsoring open air cinemas?’ (The Upfront Analytics, 13 August 2015) <> accessed 10 May 2019
William Matthew Byrne Jr., ‘Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 28 F. Supp. 2d 1120 (C.D. Cal. 1998)’ (Court Listener, 3 August 1998) accessed 11 may 2019




How to Cite

Lamlert, W. (2019). Analysis of the Critical Use of Trademark in Films under the Realm of Lanham Act. Nitipat NIDA Law Journal, 8(1), 21–40. Retrieved from



Academic Articles