McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition

Intellectual Property, Competition Policy and Antitrust and Copyright and Trademark

Article Snapshot


J. Thomas McCarthy


Clark Boardman Callaghan, 4th Edition, 1996 (updated quarterly; 7-volume treatise)


This treatise is cited as an authority in over 3,000 judicial decisions.

Policy Relevance

As a comprehensive resource explaining the statutes and case law of trademarks and unfair competition, McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition is an excellent resource for finding answers to specific questions in the field.

Main Points

  • Trademark law deals with the protection of logos and designs which identify products or services, allowing a consumer to recognize the maker of a product by sight alone. Starting 35 years ago, McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition was published and updated through four editions, and now comprises seven volumes.
  • Volume 1 covers the basic principles of trademark protection and unfair competition. It also delves into the history behind these laws and the basics on several related fields of law, including patents, copyright, and trade dress.
  • Volume 2 deals with artistic and entertainment rights and the different ways that brand names can be categorized. Generally, in order to claim a brand name as a trademark, it is necessary for the brand to be distinct, recognizable, and not descriptive of the product; however, these limitations can be overcome in some situations.
  • Volume 3 explains how trademark rights can be registered, licensed, and lost by a trademark owner. It also deals with the ability to appeal registration decisions and the state court’s role in protecting trademarks.
  • Volume 4 moves on to more complicated areas of trademark law, including infringement and likelihood of confusing. Where a competitor claims infringement of a protected trademark, it is necessary for them to show that the defendant’s mark is substantially similar to the protected mark.
  • Volume 5 deals with improper uses of trademark rights, and the potential remedies that can be gained following a successful claim of trademark infringement.
  • Volume 6 concludes the substantive material by covering the defenses to infringement, litigation issues, and insurance coverage as it applies to trademark infringement. The end of Volume 6 and all of Volume 7 contain the appendix to this treatise.


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