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CWSL Student Wins First Place in 2018 IDEA Student IP Writing Competition

Sara Gold

Third-year California Western student, Sara Gold has won first place in the 2018 IDEA Student IP Writing Competition.

The nationwide competition, hosted annually by the Intellectual Property Law Review at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, seeks original, publishable papers addressing compelling issues in intellectual property law. To be eligible for consideration, the paper must focus on intellectual property law and have been written solely by a student.

As the winner, Gold will receive $500 and publication of her article in IDEA: The Law Review of the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property Volume 59.

Publication in IDEA underlines the prestigious nature of this competition and Gold’s achievement in winning first place. IDEA is one of the oldest intellectual property publications in the world, its history beginning in 1957. Articles published in IDEA have been cited by the Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit, and a number of district and circuit courts. IDEA has also been cited in Chisum on Patents and Milgrim on Trade Secrets.

“I feel extremely honored that my work was recognized amongst many excellent submissions from law students across the country,” said Gold.

The article, which took five months to prepare, argues that trademark dilution violates the First Amendment right to free speech, explains Gold. In short, trademark dilution is a legal theory that enables owners of “famous” trademarks (McDonald's, Nike, etc.) to prevent other businesses in entirely different industries from using any trademark “similar” to the famous one. Dilution itself, continues Gold, is difficult for courts to define, the standard for what is “similar” is vague, and the plaintiff needs only to prove “likelihood of dilution,” not that dilution has occurred.

“What inspired this topic was the U.S. Supreme Court’s Matal v. Tam decision in June 2017,” reveals Gold. “There, the Court decided for the first time since the 1800s that a federal trademark law violated the First Amendment right to free speech.”

Under this law, the U.S. government could not federally register any trademark that disparages people, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols (namely, trademarks denigrating race or religion). The Supreme Court decided that it is not the government’s place to police people’s trademarks in that way.

Gold’s trademark dilution paper will be her second published law article. Her first article, about Pokemon GO and trespass law, was published in March in the Whittier Law Review.

Gold is editor-in-chief of California Western’s newspaper The Commentary and helped launch the brand-new online version last fall. Before law school, she worked as a news reporter for the Orange County Register, with over 100 published articles.