Though existing for several millennia in various cultures, body modification through tattooing is becoming more popular in the United States. Twenty percent of Americans have at least one tattoo, and among Millennials this number grows to almost forty percent. As the popularity of tattoos has increased in recent years, so too have questions revolving around concepts of intellectual property and the plausible limitations of any rights stemming therefrom. This Article addresses the implications, for both the tattooist and the tattooed, of using trademarked designations as tattoos. Neither the courts nor Congress have definitively answered the question of how traditional trademark law norms apply when a trademark is permanently inked onto the body of a human being. This Article contends that traditional enforcement norms related to trademark law are ill equipped to address the myriad questions that arise with respect to tattoos. In addition, the Article builds on earlier suggestions that the Thirteenth Amendment necessitates the creation of exceptions to traditional intellectual property law enforcement mechanisms when permanent tattoos are at issue.
BRANDED: Trademark Tattoos, Slave Owner Brands, And The Right To Have "Free" Skin,
Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mttlr/vol22/iss2/2