BLURRINGblurring, n. Trademarks. A form of dilution in which goodwill in a famous mark is eroded through the mark’s unauthorized use by others on or in connection with dissimilar products or services. ? Blurring is one type of dilution that is actionable under the Federal Trademark Dilution Act, 15 USCA ¡ì 1125(c) (the court found that Nabisco’s use of a fish shape in its animal crackers diluted Pepperidge Farm’s famous Goldfish trademark).
¡ª Also termed dilution by blurring; diminution. Cf. TARNISHMENT. [Cases: Trade Regulation 366. C.J.S. Trade-Mark, Trade-Names, and Unfair Competition ¡ì 79.]
¡°Blurring is a lessening of the fame possessed by a famous mark. One might begin to think about blurring by recalling ¡®free association¡¯ exercises or games, in which one player says a word and the other player must respond instantly with the first word that pops into his or her head. By definition, a strong or famous mark is likely to produce both a prompt and a uniform ¡®free association¡¯ response when mentioned to most consumers. Thus when I say ROLEX, you ¡ª and almost everyone else ¡ª will likely say ¡®watches.¡¯ … On the other hand, a weak mark will produce no response at all, or a variety of responses from different consumers…. If the owners of the ROLEX mark had no way to prevent the use of that mark on pencils, or pianos, or pistachio nuts, because those products are so remote from watches that they could not prove any likelihood of confusion, eventually, the automatic free association of the ROLEX mark with watches, and watches alone, would be destroyed. The mark would be less famous than before. It would be blurred.¡± Roger E. Schechter & John R. Thomas, Intellectual Property ¡ì 30.3, at 710¨C11 (2003).