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26 Indiana Law Review 519 (1993)


The concept of incontestability in American trademark law has caused great confusion ever since its adoption as part of United States trademark law in 1946. This Article is first a study of the rational basis for incontestability in American trademark law. The role of incontestability in the larger regime of American trademark law is established in order to understand incontestability as it fits within the history of the common law of trademarks. This is fundamental in order to understand the significance of the thesis that incontestability is illegitimate. Next, acquisition of incontestability is presented in order to show how simple it is to attain incontestable status and to put in perspective the resulting advantages. This also demonstrates the fact that incontestability is a radical departure from the common law of trademarks. This Article concludes with an analysis of trademarks themselves as property. Because the concept of incontestability was adopted without reference to the common law, and because it attempts to create property rights in a trademark itself, this Article concludes that incontestability is jurisprudentially illegitimate and should be repealed.