Infringing a Trademark by Disparaging It?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement thinks that disparaging a trademark is infringing on the trademark.  I think that’s absurd.  I am not an intellectual property lawyer, but the proposition doesn’t make sense.  Rebecca Tushnet is a professor of intellectual property, and she agrees ICE is wrong.

I attended the University of Texas at Austin, both for undergraduate school and law school.  UT’s logo is:

UT Longhorn

UT’s traditional rival is Texas A&M University.  Students there are known as Aggies.  Aggies traditionally portray the UT logo as follows:

UT Longhorn--sawed off

The altered logo is often accompanied by a bible verse calling for sawing off the horns of the wicked.

I don’t generally defend Aggies, but it would be ridiculous for UT to claim the altered image is an infringement.  The image is just part of the rivalry between the two schools.


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