This Article focuses on “brand fetishism”—the phenomenon of perceiving trademarks as spiritual entities rather than as informational devices. Modern corporations strive to create brands with personalities and souls, brands that tug at consumers’ heartstrings. Meanwhile, trademark law is intended to protect trademarks as informational tools reducing consumers’ search costs. This Article examines this dissonance between trademark law rationales and the current use of the corporate trademark. Research demonstrates that emotional branding results in mistaken quality judgments and hinders rational purchasing decisions by consumers, thereby distorting market competition. Therefore, this Article proposes that trademark law should serve to discourage brand fetishism, and should act to restore the original informative function of trademarks. Yet, as this Article demonstrates, trademark law in practice supports and encourages brand fetishism. This Article surveys the various doctrines in trademark law that, deliberately or not, result in this undesirable outcome, and suggests subsequent changes.
Assaf, Katya, "Brand Fetishism" (2010). Connecticut Law Review. 84.