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Language, Meaning and the Law$
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Chris Hutton

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780748633500

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633500.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 02 June 2020

Idols of the Market

Idols of the Market

Chapter:
(p.118) 7 Idols of the Market
Source:
Language, Meaning and the Law
Author(s):

Christopher Hutton

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633500.003.0008

This chapter looks at ideas of commodification and circulation, focusing on trademark law. A trademark is a distinctive sign which associates a product or service with the business that produces it. The liberal ideal in relation to the language culture of a particular polity would be that words and formulations, and therefore associated ideas, should circulate as freely as possible. In metaphorical terms, a language should be an open-access space or ‘commons’, where no single participant or group of participants has a monopoly and there is no central planning agency or centralised oversight. However trademarks as property rights represent a form of monopoly, and the question is how far free speech rights should encroach on that monopoly. Linguists tend to take a populist view, but some trademark lawyers see this as overly idealistic.

Keywords:   Circulation, Language commons, Free speech, Trademarks, Commodification, Linguistic popularism

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