The IPKat's effervescent friend Paul J. Heald (University of Georgia Law School) just informed him that his latest piece of research, co-authored with Robert Brauneis (George Washington University Law School), is now available for consumption on SSRN: you can download it at no cost to your pocket, if not your preconceptions, here. The title of this 56-page piece rather gives the game away: it's "Trademark Infringement, Trademark Dilution, and the Decline in Sharing of Famous Brand Names: An Introduction and Empirical Study".
According to the abstract,
"this article ... presents results from an empirical study of sharing rates among 131 famous brand names from 1940 through 2010, conducted through an examination of business names in the white pages telephone directories of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Manhattan. Perhaps the most dramatic finding of the study is that independent uses of the 131 brand names – that is, uses of those names by businesses other than those that made the names famous – have declined from 3,000 to 1,380 between 1960 and 2010, a 54% drop. The article then assesses potential causes for that decline. We evaluate five potential non-legal factors, including economic changes, family migration, decreased attractiveness of particular famous brands, changes in the popularity of business name types, and changes in cultural naming patterns. It then considers evidence that changes in trademark infringement and dilution law underlie some part of the decline. The article concludes that both legal and non-legal factors have likely played a role".The IPKat thinks this is a jolly good start -- though as the authors themselves acknowledge, the limited nature of this empirical study means that this subject has by no means been exhausted. He very much hopes that, since the authors have gone to some lengths to explain their methodology for the selection of famous names (many of which will be unknown to the younger or non-US reader) and their means of assessing the extent of shared use, similar empirical studies in jurisdictions outside the United States will reveal whether the trend identified by Paul and Robert is unique to that country or can be seen also in countries with less cultural diversity, fewer overt legal checks on dilution, less consumer-driven economies and where civil law principles operate instead of those of the common law.