One of the jobs of the Art Institute’s crack legal department is to help protect the museum’s trademarks. A trademark, as you may already know, is any word, name, symbol, or other device that indicates the source of goods or services. Trademark law protects a trademark owner against the use of a trademark (or any confusingly similar mark) in a way that is likely to cause confusion. A trademark owner, however, must act vigilantly to protect its trademarks.
One way to help protect a trademark is to apply for a federal trademark registration, which, if successful, entitles the owner to exclusive national use of the mark and the ability to use the cool ® symbol. The Art Institute of Chicago has federal registrations for several of its trademarks, including our name, our red square logo, and each of the iconic lion statues that guard the Michigan Avenue entrance. The image above shows one of our certificates of registration.
From time to time, as a part of the Art Institute’s efforts to protect its trademarks, I send “friendly” (to a lawyer, at least) letters to companies that use our trademarks without permission. We aren’t interested in stopping people from snapping personal photos of the lions, but we cannot allow commercial vendors to wrongly imply that the Art Institute offers, sponsors or endorses goods or services that we have never even seen before.
One recent unauthorized commercial product that crossed the line was a t-shirt featuring one of the lions (our registered trademark) over the text “The Art Institute of Chicago” (our registered trademark), along with the phrase “Show Me the Monet” (unlikely to ever be an Art Institute trademark). Concerned that the public might believe that the shirt was sold or approved by the Art Institute, I sent a letter to the vendor which went something like this: “Dear vendor … our valuable registered trademarks … unauthorized commercial product … likelihood of confusion … knock it off.”
The story has a happy ending, involving no blood or tears. The vendor acknowledged its mistake and offered to do whatever was necessary to secure approval of the shirt. The business people in our Museum Shop worked out an arrangement with the vendor involving some changes to the shirt and a formal license agreement. And thus were the Art Institute’s trademarks and the t-shirt-buying public kept safe from the likelihood of confusion.
1 day 19 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago "Be a good craftsman; it won't stop you being a genius.”
Advice from Pierre-Auguste Renoir, on his birthday.
See 13 paintings by the great French Impressionist—now on view: http://bit.ly/2lj3AVq
2 days 13 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Go
Speed is both a product of modern life and an agent of it. At the turn of the 20th century, new technologies of mobility and transmission—trains, cars, airplanes, radio, film, television, to name only a few—increased the pace of life, collapsing distances between people and places and assaulting the senses.
Go, the second exhibition in the Art Institute’s Modern Series, explores how artists responded to different ways of experiencing and seeing the world in the accelerated modern age—through paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, designed objects, textiles, books, and films.
2 days 17 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Happy birthday to Winslow Homer. In 1883 the artist moved to a small coastal village in Maine, where he created a series of paintings of the sea unparalleled in American art. The paintings he created after 1882 focused almost exclusively on humankind’s age-old contest with nature.
In The Herring Net, Homer depicted the heroic efforts of fishermen at their daily work. While one fisherman hauls in the netted and glistening herring, the other unloads the catch. Utilizing the teamwork so necessary for survival, both strive to steady the precarious boat as it rides the incoming swells. Homer’s isolation of these two figures underscores the monumentality of their task: the elemental struggle against a sea that both nurtures and deprives.
See five paintings by Winslow Homer in Gallery 171 of American Art—http://bit.ly/2l89rfx