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The CREATe Trade Mark Seminar Series: Forthcoming online talks by Dr Jennifer Davis on Trade Mark History and Prof. Barton Beebe, Dr Roy Germano, Prof. Christopher Jon Sprigman and Prof. Joel H. Steckel on Experimental Methods

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BlogTrade Mark Seminar Series

The CREATe Trade Mark Seminar Series: Forthcoming online talks by Dr Jennifer Davis on Trade Mark History and Prof. Barton Beebe, Dr Roy Germano, Prof. Christopher Jon Sprigman and Prof. Joel H. Steckel on Experimental Methods

By 25 May 2022November 6th, 2023No Comments

As we previously announced, we are launching The CREATe Trade Mark Seminar Series this Spring. The CREATe Trade Mark Seminar Series comprise two on-line talks about trade marks each term, one on trade mark history and one on innovative methodologies in contemporary trade mark research. The full details of this term’s talks are below.

To attend either of these events, and/or to be added to our mailing list for future events, please contact Dr Elena Cooper:

To propose a paper for a future event, please contact the convenors of the CREATe Trade Mark Seminar Series: Dr Elena Cooper ( on trade mark history and Dr Xiaoren Wang ( on innovative methodologies in contemporary trade mark research.


Time and place: Wednesday 25 May 2022, 10am to 11am, UK time, online.

Speaker: Dr Jennifer Davis, University of Cambridge

Chair: Dr Elena Cooper, CREATe

Title: Trade marks and truth telling: sweated labour and the marking of goods in Britain, 1860-1920

Abstract: A registered trade mark acts as an indication of origin for goods but tells us nothing specific about the circumstances under which they originated. This limitation was not inevitable. When trade marks became objects of registration in Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century the amount of information they should convey was hotly contested as was the information to be placed upon goods under laws against deceptive marketing.  These debates involved manufacturers, retailers, warehousemen, exporters, opponents of immigration and representatives of labour.  The latter were aware that, depending on the debate’s outcome, the strength of labour’s position in the workplace might be consolidated or undermined.     This talk looks at developments in production and consumption which ensured that laws regulating trade marks and trade descriptions became of importance to labour.  It then looks at the development of the law.  It argues that critics understood the use of trade marks and trade descriptions, when placed on goods, as concealing a critical disjunction between the public understanding of their origin and the actual manner and location of their production in Britain and abroad: a disjunction which came at the expense of labour.  An example of this concern, the debate over the ‘sweated’ trades in the late nineteenth century, will be considered.  Finally, the talk examines labour’s suggested remedies, and ask why they were unsuccessful.

Biography: Dr Jennifer Davis is an historian and a lawyer.  She is a member of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law at the University of Cambridge and an Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge.  She has published widely in the area of 19th century poverty, law breaking and law enforcement. Her publications include studies of immigration, policing and the magistracy in London.  She has also lectured and published in the area of intellectual property law with a particular interest in trade marks and unfair competition, viewed from an interdisciplinary perspective.  As well as publishing articles on contemporary trade mark law and unfair competition and their history, together with the linguist Alan Durant, she has published a number of articles on the intersection between trade mark law and linguistics.  They are currently working on a book, Key Words in Intellectual Property Law, for CUP. With Jane Ginsburg and Lionel Bently she has edited two books which approach copyright and trade marks from an interdisciplinary perspective.


Time and place: Wednesday 8 June, 5.30pm to 6.30pm, UK time, online.

Speakers: Prof. Barton Beebe, Dr Roy Germano, Prof. Christopher Jon Sprigman and Prof. Joel H. Steckel, all of NYU

Chair: Dr Xiaoren Wang, CREATe

Title: Investigating the Role of Consumer Uncertainty in Trademark Law: Experimental Methods

Abstract: Nearly every important issue in trademark litigation turns on the question of what consumers in the marketplace believe to be true. To address this question, litigants in American courts frequently present consumer survey evidence, which can play a decisive role in driving the outcomes of disputes. But trademark survey evidence has often proven to be highly controversial, not least because it has sometimes been perceived as open to expert manipulation. In this project, we identify and present empirical evidence of a fundamental problem with trademark survey evidence: while the leading survey formats in trademark law test for whether consumers hold a particular belief, they do not test for the strength or the varying degrees of certainty with which consumers hold that belief. Yet as the social science literature has long recognized, the strength with which consumers hold particular beliefs shapes their behavior in the marketplace, and thus it should also shape, we believe, how trademark disputes play out in the courtroom. We show how online experiments involving test surveys may be used to expose the remarkable degree to which conventional survey formats overlook—or suppress—crucial information about consumer uncertainty. We further reflect on how experiments in other areas of trademark law may help to refine trademark doctrine and improve its fit with the realities of the consumer marketplace.

Biographies: Barton Beebe is John M. Demarais Professor of Intellectual Property Law, NYU School of Law. Roy Germano is Senior Research Scholar, NYU School of Law. Christopher Jon Sprigman is Murray and Kathleen Bring Professor of Law, NYU School of Law. Joel H. Steckel is Professor of Marketing, NYU Stern School of Business.