Wilco’s Star Wars

In Mid-July the rock band Wilco had a surprise release of their latest album, Star Wars. Leaving fans delighted, and trademark attorneys perplexed.

Wilco’s site offers no statement that the name “Star Wars” is used under license from Lucasfilm, like Motorola does for DROID, and there is nothing disclaiming any relationship to the movie franchise.

If Disney (which now owns the Star Wars franchise) wants to sue Wilco, they could argue either trademark infringement or trademark dilution.

There are interesting arguments on both sides for either theory, but I want to concentrate on Trademark Dilution for now.

Proving trademark dilution would require Disney to show that their mark is famous, and that Wilco’s use of it either blurs the connection between the Star Wars goods and their source (Lucasfilm/Disney), or somehow tarnishes the name Star Wars by being inferior or unwholesome.

Dilution is essentially a way to protect your mark, even if the average consumer would not be confused by the defendant’s usage.