Trademarks and the Law of the Horse

Trojan Doctrine is essential for trademark law. Let me begin by giving an example, rather than explaining the doctrine. Magellan’s Travel, formerly known as “Safe Travel Begin at Magellan’s”, specializes in travel books and equipment. Magellan, a famed explorer and entrepreneur, is why the trademark made perfect sense. Magellan, according to many, was the first person who circumnavigated the globe.

Magellan actually did not circumnavigate any of the planets, and was instead killed in half way, in Manila. Magellan also made it in 250 of the 270 crew members. This is apparently what Magellan Travel customers will be doing, particularly if they have Amelia Earhart luggage.

The Trojan Doctrine, I suggest, should invalidate trademarks if consumers—had they only thought hard about the phrase—wouldn’t dream of buying a product with such an inapt name. You might consider this a kind of doctrine with “tertiary” meaning. While I’m not certain what is most harmful about these trademarks, it seems likely that there are some.

Rembrandt Toothpaste claims it whitens your teeth. Rembrandt van Rij is a good choice for sparkling teeth. Yet Rembrandt’s paintings are mostly in dark, deep colors. For reasons that are familiar to anyone who is well versed in Renaissance hygiene, the subjects rarely show their teeth. Is Rembrandt Toothpaste sending us an unspoken message about its efficacy? They are trying to promote artistic literacy? It should be a law.

Additional examples [including Trojan] abound.

Before I had a chance to think it through, I bought the Random House Unabridged Dictionary. On reflection, I realize that randomness is the quality I least want in a dictionary—or in a house—either in the sequence of the entries or their content. A Well-Organized House Unabridged Dictionary is what I prefer. Inadvertently deceived, I was irreparably injured. Even though I wanted to drive the Mitsubishi Mirage and the Chevy Nova, I realized that it was not a good idea.

As defective trademarks, they are small potatoes compared to what gave the Trojan Doctrine its name. Think of Trojan and what comes to mind first. Others think of the war. Others say that the USC football team. (And by the way, USC names its football team after losers.

Others say condoms. We will soon return to that topic. The Trojan horse, the Trojan word that made its way into English, is perhaps the most important Trojan. It can be located immediately between the words “zither” and “stymie” in my Random House.

Let’s look at Trojan condoms from the perspective of our horse friend. The Trojan horse is briefly described below. Troy fought the Greeks for many years and managed to keep invaders out of its gates. Troy, in weakness and seduced in deception by the Greeks, opened its gates to let in a large horse. In the middle of the night many little men came out of this horse and decimated the city.

Condoms are a fine choice.