Dilution Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Dilution Doctrine is a principle of trademark law that protects a trademark from deterioration in strength, as when a person seeks to use the mark for an unrelated product. The dilution doctrine grew out of common law principles dating back to 1898. Trademark dilution is defined as the lessening of the capacity of a famous mark to identify and distinguish goods or services. It has now become part of the federal trademark law and provides protection to trademarks even where claims of trademark infringement are not viable. [15 U.S.C.S. § 1127]

To establish dilution, plaintiff must show that (1) defendants have made use of a junior mark sufficiently similar to the famous mark to evoke in a relevant universe of consumers a mental association of the two that (2) has caused (3) actual economic harm to the famous mark's economic value by lessening its former selling power as an advertising agent for its goods and services. Dilution generally occurs through the blurring of a famous mark or tarnishment of the mark, but is not limited to these categories.[Playboy Enters. v. Netscape Communs. Corp., 55 F. Supp. 2d 1070 (C.D. Cal. 1999)]