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Colleges Need Free Speech More Than Trademarks
Registrations and rights-claiming of this sort are unwarranted in higher education. Trademarks are meant to be vehicles for reducing consumer confusion, not rewards for brand-building. Because trademark registrations signify rights to commercial uses of words, rights holders and the public often mistakenly think they confer ownership of words themselves. This misperception tends to promote risk aversion and stifle otherwise fair expression. Determining when a mark is confusingly similar to another, or distinguishing impermissible commercial uses of a term from fair uses of it, is complicated.