Professor Lisa P. Ramsey

Professor Lisa Pondrom Ramsey

University of San Diego School of Law

5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110-2492

Telephone: 619-260-7977

@lpramsey on Bluesky, Mastodon, & X/Twitter

Lisa Ramsey is a Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law, where she teaches and writes in the intellectual property law and international intellectual property law area. She is an expert on trademark law and has given presentations on trademark law to attorneys, professors, and students throughout the United States and around the world. Professor Ramsey is also an active member of the Trademark Law Committee of the American Intellectual Property Law Association and worked on the subcommittee that updated the International Trademark Association's Model Trademark Law Guidelines in 2019. Before joining the USD law faculty, Professor Ramsey was an intellectual property litigator at Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich and served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Rebecca Beach Smith in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Professor Ramsey’s scholarship focuses on potential conflicts between trademark laws and free speech rights, and explains how trademark protection of certain inherently valuable words, symbols, and product features can harm fair competition and freedom of expression. She is currently working on a book about this topic which will be published by Cambridge University Press.

Examples of Professor Ramsey's publications include Raising the Threshold for Trademark Infringement to Protect Free Expression in the American University Law Review (2023) (with Christine Haight Farley); Protectable Trademark Subject Matter in Common Law Countries and the Problem with Flexibility in The Cambridge Handbook of International and Comparative Trademark Law (Irene Calboli & Jane Ginsburg eds., Cambridge University Press 2020); Using Failure to Function Doctrine to Protect Free Speech and Competition in Trademark Law in the Iowa Law Review Online (2020); Non-Traditional Trademarks and Inherently Valuable Expression in The Protection of Non-Traditional Trademarks (Irene Calboli & Martin Senftleben eds., Oxford University Press 2018); Free Speech Challenges to Trademark Law After Matal v. Tam in the Houston Law Review (2018); A Free Speech Right to Trademark Protection? in The Trademark Reporter (2016); Reconciling Trademark Rights and Free Expression Locally and Globally in International Intellectual Property: A Handbook of Contemporary Research (Daniel J. Gervais ed. 2015); Mechanisms for Limiting Trade Mark Rights to Further Competition and Free Speech in the International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law (2013) (with Jens Schovsbo); and Free Speech and International Obligations to Protect Trademarks in the Yale Journal of International Law (2010). Her article Descriptive Trademarks and the First Amendment in the Tennessee Law Review (2003), was judged by the editor of the Intellectual Property Law Review to be one of the best intellectual property law review articles of 2003. Professor Ramsey's CV (as of October 2023) can be found here.

EXPERIENCE

University of San Diego School of Law

Professor of Law, 2009 to present;  Associate Professor of Law, 2006 to 2009; Assistant Professor of Law, 2004 to 2006 - San Diego, CA

Courses: Trademark Law, International Intellectual Property, Civil Procedure, Trademark Litigation, Intellectual Property Survey, Intellectual Property Seminar 

Award for scholarship: Thorsnes Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship, 2020-2021

Award for teaching and scholarship: Class of 1975 Endowed Professorship, 2017-2018

New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington

Senior Visiting Research Fellowship - Oct. 16-20, 2017 - Wellington, New Zealand

Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne

Visiting Scholar - Feb. & Mar. 2011 - Melbourne, Australia

Law Offices of Lisa P. Ramsey

Appellate Litigation - 2003 to 2004 - San Diego, CA

Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich (now DLA Piper)

Associate in Intellectual Property Litigation Group - 1997 to 2002 - San Diego, CA

United States District Court Eastern District of Virginia

Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Rebecca Beach Smith - 1996 to 1997 - Norfolk, VA

EDUCATION

UCLA School of Law

Order of the Coif, UCLA Law Review, Moot Court Honors Program - J.D. 1996 - Los Angeles, CA

UCLA

Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, UCLA Advertising Club - B.A. 1993 - Los Angeles, CA

WORKS IN PROGRESS

Trademarks and Free Speech: Conflicts and Resolutions (working title of book accepted for publication by Cambridge University Press)

PUBLICATIONS

Raising the Threshold for Trademark Infringement to Protect Free Expression, 72 American University Law Review 1225 (2023) (with Christine Haight Farley) - also posted on SSRN


Protectable Trademark Subject Matter in Common Law Countries and the Problem with Flexibility, in The Cambridge Handbook of International and Comparative Trademark Law 193 (Irene Calboli & Jane Ginsburg eds., Cambridge University Press 2020)


Using Failure to Function Doctrine to Protect Free Speech and Competition in Trademark Law, 104 Iowa Law Review Online 70 (2020) - also posted on SSRN


Non-Traditional Trademarks and Inherently Valuable Expression, in The Protection of Non-Traditional Trademarks: Critical Perspectives 337 (Irene Calboli & Martin Senftleben eds., Oxford University Press 2018)

   

Free Speech Challenges to Trademark Law After Matal v. Tam, 56 Houston Law Review 401 (2018) - also posted on SSRN

   

A Free Speech Right to Trademark Protection? 106 Trademark Reporter 797 (2016) - also posted on SSRN

Reconciling Trademark Rights and Free Expression Locally and Globally, in International Intellectual Property: A Handbook of Contemporary Research 341 (Daniel J. Gervais ed., Edward Elgar Publishing 2015)

   

Mechanisms for Limiting Trade Mark Rights to Further Competition and Free Speech, 44 International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law 671 (2013) (with Jens Schovsbo)   

      

Free Speech and International Obligations to Protect Trademarks, 35 Yale J. Int'l L. 405 (2010) - also posted on SSRN

       

Brandjacking on Social Networks: Trademark Infringement by Impersonation of Markholders, 58 Buff. L. Rev. 851 (2010) (symposium article for the Advertising and the Law conference) - also posted on SSRN

     

Increasing First Amendment Scrutiny of Trademark Law, 61 SMU L. Rev. 381 (2008) -  also posted on SSRN

    

First Amendment Limitations on Trademark Rights, in 3 Intellectual Property and Information Wealth: Issues and Practices in the Digital Age 147 (Peter K. Yu ed., 2007) 

    

Intellectual Property Rights in Advertising, 12 Mich. Telecomm. Tech. L. Rev. 189 (2006) - also posted on SSRN

     

Descriptive Trademarks and the First Amendment, 70 Tenn. L. Rev. 1095 (2003) - also posted on SSRN

Predicting the Unpredictable under Rule 11(b)(3): When are Allegations “Likely” to Have Evidentiary Support? 43 UCLA L. Rev. 1393 (1996) (student comment)


INVITED GUEST BLOG POSTS, COMMENTARY ON CASES, AND BOOK REVIEWS

Guest Blog Post, Evaluating the Constitutionality of Viewpoint-Neutral Trademark Registration Laws That Do Not Restrict Speech--Vidal v. Elster, Technology & Marketing Law Blog (Nov. 27, 2023) 

Dog Toys, Trademarks, and Free Speech in Jack Daniel's v. VIP Products, The Blue Brief: Faculty Review of the 2022-23 U.S. Supreme Court Term (July 13, 2023) (published by the University of San Diego School of Law)

Guest Blog Post, Resolving Conflicts Between Trademark and Free Speech Rights After Jack Daniel's v. VIP Products, Technology & Marketing Law Blog (June 21, 2023) 

Guest Blog Post, The First Amendment Limits Trademark Rights, But How? - Jack Daniel's v. Bad Spaniels, Technology & Marketing Law Blog (April 3, 2023)

Guest Blog Post, Trademark Registration of Political Messages for Expressive Merchandise-In re Elster, Technology & Marketing Law Blog (March 4, 2022)

The First Amendment Protects Offensive Trademarks, The Regulatory Review (July 25, 2017) (published by the Penn Program on Regulation at the University of Pennsylvania Law School; discussing the implications of the Supreme Court's Matal v. Tam decision)

  

Guest Blog Post, Symposium: Increasing First Amendment scrutiny of trademark law after Matal v. Tam, SCOTUSblog (June 20, 2017)


Book Review: Trademark Protection and Territoriality Challenges in a Global Economy edited by Irene Calboli and Edward Lee, 5 The IP Law Book Review 1 (2014)


Book Review: Australian Trade Mark Law by Robert Burrell and Michael Handler, 16 Media & Arts Law Review 218 (2011)  

PODCAST, VIDEO, MAGAZINE, AND RADIO INTERVIEWS

Podcast Interview of Lisa Ramsey by Brian Frye, Lisa Ramsey on Trademark Infringement & the First Amendment, Ipse Dixit, Season 1, Episode 779 (June 17, 2023) 

Video interview of Lisa Ramsey by Muireann Bolger, Senior Editor of the World Intellectual Property Review (May 7, 2021)


Written interview of Lisa Ramsey by Muireann Bolger, Career Series: Lisa Ramsey, University of San Diego, World Intellectual Property Review (May 6, 2021)


Podcast interview of Lisa Ramsey by David Lizerbram, Professor Lisa Ramsey on Non-Traditional Trademarks, California Lawyers Association IP Law Section's Intangible Assets Podcast (March 3, 2020)


Podcast Interview of Lisa Ramsey by Brian Frye, Lisa Ramsey on Trademark Law and the First Amendment, Ipse Dixit, Season 1, Episode 298 (July 1, 2019) 


Podcast interview of Lisa Ramsey by Audrey Dauvet, When Freedom of Expression Takes on Trademark Laws: What's the Impact for Business and Intellectual Property Rights Holders? International Trademark Association's Brand & New Podcast (Feb. 11, 2020)


Video Interview of Lisa Ramsey by Denise Howell, This Week in Law, Episode 329 (Dec. 4, 2015) (discussing current issues in trademark, right of publicity, and free speech law)


Radio Interview of Lisa Ramsey by Scott Shafter, Controversy Erupts Over Yosemite Naming Rights, Forum KQED Radio (Dec. 31, 2014)


Radio Interview by Damien Carrick, Brandjacking on Social Networks, The Law Report, ABC Radio National, Melbourne, Australia (March 29, 2011)

PRESENTATIONS, WEBINARS, AND OTHER SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

Invited Participant, Trademark Scholars Roundtable, University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Law (Feb. 23-24, 2024)


Presentation, Free Speech or Free Riding: Does the First Amendment Trump Trademark Law?, Evil Twin Debate Series hosted by the University of Richmond School of Law, Santa Clara, CA (Feb. 1, 2024) (debate with Jake Linford of Florida State University College of Law the evening before the 2024 Works-in-Progress for Intellectual Property Scholars Conference held at Santa Clara University School of Law) 


Presentation, Trademark and Free Speech at the Crossroads, Beverly Hills Bar Association Webinar (Dec. 12, 2023) (virtual presentation) 


Presentation, Trademark, Free Speech, and the "Trump Too Small" Case, Maurer School of Law, Indiana University Bloomington (Nov. 8, 2023) (virtual presentation)


Presentation, Trademark Registration Laws and the First Amendment, Section Two Small: Exploring the New Constitutional Limits on Trademark Law, University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law (Nov. 3, 2023) (virtual presentation)


Presentation, Trademark Law and Expressive Works in a Post-Jack Daniel's World, Media Law Resource Center (Nov. 2, 2023) (virtual presentation)


Presentation, Trademarks and the First Amendment, American Intellectual Property Law Association 2023 Annual Meeting, National Harbor, MD (Oct. 19, 2023)


Trademarks, Free Speech, and the Bad Spaniels Case


Panelist, Defending Comics Today: Civil Rights and Censorship, Comic-Con International, San Diego, CA (July 21, 2023) (discussing how trademark laws can be used to stop the use of another's trademark in comic books, and the implications of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Jack Daniel's v. VIP Products for comic book creators and other authors and artists)  


Presentation, Trademarks and Free Speech, Practicing Law Institute's Advanced Trademark Law 2023: Current Issues, New York, NY (March 8, 2023) 


Invited Participant, Trademark Scholars Roundtable, UCLA School of Law (Feb. 24-25, 2023)


Trademarks, Free Speech, and Inherently Valuable Expression


Presentation, Balancing Trademark and Free Speech Rights in Trademark Registration and Enforcement Laws, American Intellectual Property Law Association Webinar (Aug. 16, 2022) (virtual presentation)

Invited Participant, Trademark Scholars Roundtable, St. Hilda's College at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom (June 24-25, 2022)


Presentation, Naughty Trade Marks and Greedy Owners: The US Perspective, UCL Institute of Brand and Innovation Law Annual Brands Seminar, University College London, United Kingdom (April 28, 2022)


Panelist, IP Law and Culture, 2021 National Lawyers Convention, Washington D.C. (Nov. 11, 2021)


Presentation, Trademark Law's Distinctiveness Requirement, Workshop on Intersections Between Copyright and Trademark Law, hosted by the University of Amsterdam's Institute for Information Law, Amsterdam, Netherlands (June 2, 2021) (virtual presentation)  


Presentation, First Amendment Challenges to Trademark Laws after Tam and Brunetti, American Intellectual Property Law Association Spring Meeting (May 10, 2021) (virtual presentation)


Presentation, Trademark Registration Practice After Tam and Brunetti, S. Jay Plager Intellectual Property American Inn of Court, Indianapolis, IN (Feb. 17, 2021) (virtual presentation)


Presentation, Trademarks, Free Speech, and Expressive Merchandise, 2021 Works-in-Progress Intellectual Property Colloquium, co-sponsored by Texas A&M University School of Law, American University Washington College of Law, and University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law (Feb. 12, 2021) (virtual presentation)


Lecture, Trademarks and Freedom of Expression, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, UC San Diego, San Diego, CA (Oct. 30, 2020) (virtual presentation)


Invited Participant, Trademark Scholars Roundtable, Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, CA (Feb. 28-29, 2020)


Presentation, Using Trademark Law's Failure to Function Doctrine to Promote Competition and Free Expression, 2020 Works-in-Progress Intellectual Property Colloquium, Santa Clara University School of Law, Santa Clara, CA (Feb. 8, 2020)


Panelist, Women Leadership in San Diego Intellectual Property, San Diego Intellectual Property Law Association Event at Knobbe Martens, San Diego, CA (Oct. 24, 2019)


Protectable Trademark Subject Matter in Common Law Countries and the Problem with Flexibility

Presentation, Trademarks, the First Amendment, and the Implications of the Supreme Court's Brunetti Decision, California Lawyers Association Webinar (Aug. 6, 2019) (virtual presentation)


Moderator, Tenth Annual Lindley Law & Comics Panel, San Diego Central Library, San Diego, CA (July 16, 2019) (with panelists Jonathan Maberry, Stu Rees, and Rob Salkowitz)


Panelist, Understanding Consumer and Brand Owner Reactions to Fan Works, International Trademark Association Annual Meeting, Boston, MA (May 20, 2019)


Invited Participant, Trademark Scholars Roundtable, Harvard Law School, Boston, MA (April 12-13, 2019)


Presentation, And Now For Something Completely Different: What You Need to Know About Non-Traditional Trademarks, California Lawyers Association's "Trademark Office Comes to California" program, San Francisco, CA (April 2, 2019) and Los Angeles, CA (April 4, 2019)  


Lecture, Resolving Conflicts Between Trademark Laws and Free Expression in the United States and Europe, Annual Guest of Honor Lecture at the Center for International Intellectual Property Studies Summer School, University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France (July 10, 2018)

 

Free Speech Challenges to Trademark Law after Matal v. Tam

Commentator, Seventh Annual International Intellectual Property Scholars Roundtable, Duke Law School, Durham, NC (April 26-27, 2018) 

Invited Participant, Trademark Scholars Roundtable, Notre Dame Law School (Chicago campus), Chicago, IL (April 12-13, 2018)

 

Non-Traditional Trademarks and Inherently Valuable Expression

Presentation, Trademarks and Freedom of Expression, New Zealand Intellectual Property Office, Wellington, New Zealand (Oct. 19, 2017)    

Invited Participant, Trademark Scholars Roundtable, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago, IL (March 23-24, 2017) 

A Free Speech Right to Trademark Protection?

Moderator, Nontraditional Trademarks, Innovation, and Competition: Friends or Foes? International Trademark Association Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (May 23, 2016)

 

Presentation, Trademark Law and Freedom of Expression, Distinguished Speaker Series at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Ottawa, Canada (March 17, 2016) (presentation to trademark examiners working at the Canadian government's trademark office)

 

Commentator, 4th Annual Trademark Works-in-Progress Colloquium, American University, Washington D.C. (Nov. 13, 2015)

 

Trademarking Everything? Why Brands Should Care About Limits on Trademark Rights 

Presentation, Trademark Year in Review, Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association Spring Seminar, Laguna Nigel, CA (May 29, 2015)

 

Free Speech, Competition, and the Structure of Trademark Law

Reconciling Trademark Rights and Free Speech Locally and Globally

Commentator, UCLA Entertainment, Media, and Intellectual Property Colloquium Workshop, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, CA (Nov. 10, 2013) (invited commentator on paper Flexible Copyright: Can EU Author’s Right Accommodate Fair Use? by Bernt Hugenholtz and Martin Senftleben) 

 

Presentation, Trademark Defenses in the Internet Domain Name Space, Conference on International Aspects of Intellectual Property Law, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ (Nov. 30, 2012) 

   

An Impersonation Theory of Trademark Law  

Mechanisms for Limiting Trade Mark Rights to Further Competition and Free Speech  (with coauthor Jens Schovsbo) 

Presentation, Trademark Year in Review, Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association Spring Seminar, Torrey Pines, CA (June 10, 2012)

   

Commentator, UCLA Entertainment, Media, and Intellectual Property Colloquium Workshop, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, CA (Nov. 6, 2011) (invited commentator on paper Looking at the Lanham Act: Images in Trademark and Advertising Law by Rebecca Tushnet)

    

Presentation, Hot Topics in Trademark Law for Non-IP Attorneys, California State Bar Annual Meeting, Long Beach, CA (Sept. 17, 2011)

   

Presentation, What the United States Can Learn From Australian Trade Mark Law,  Eleventh Annual Intellectual Property Scholars Conference, DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, IL (Aug. 12, 2011)

     

Panelist, Technology, Social Media, and Liminal IP, Law & Society Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (June 5, 2011)

   

How Trademark Law Harms Free Speech and What To Do About It  

Brandjacking on Social Networks: Trademark Infringement by Impersonation of Markholders (formerly titled Brandjacking on Social Networks: Confusion About the Source of Information or Advertising)  

Presentation, Free Speech and Trademarks, Conference on Fundamental Rights and Private Law, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark (May 31, 2010)

    

Free Speech and International Obligations to Protect Trademarks

Commentator, User-Generated Content, Social Networking, and Virtual Worlds, Vanderbilt Law School, Nashville, TN (Nov. 14-15, 2008) (invited commentator on two papers)

   

Panelist, Intellectual Property vs. the First Amendment, Annual Intellectual Property Institute, State Bar of California Intellectual Property Law Section, Palm Desert, CA (Nov. 8, 2008)

     

Increasing First Amendment Scrutiny of Trademark Law

Presentation, What If There Were No First Amendment Distinction Between Commercial and Noncommercial Speech: Would Trademark Law Be Constitutional?, Fourth Annual Intellectual Property and Communications Law Program Symposium "What Ifs and Other Alternative Intellectual Property and Cyberlaw Stories," Michigan State University College of Law, East Lansing, MI (Mar. 31, 2007)

  

Intellectual Property Rights in Advertising

QUOTES IN THE NEWS MEDIA

Reuters Fact Check, 'From the river to the sea' chant not yet granted a U.S. trademark, Reuters (Dec. 6, 2023)

Alex Swoyer, Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block trademark 'Trump too small', The Washington Times (Oct. 30, 2023)

Susanna Granieri, Dispute Over 'Trump Too Small' Trademark for T-Shirts Reaches Supreme Court, First Amendment Watch (Nov. 1, 2023) 

Kyle Jahner and Riddhi Setty, Jack Daniel's High Court Win Leaves Trademark 'Rogers Test' Hazy, Bloomberg Law (June 9, 2023)

Sarah Speight, Fending Off: how a giant guitar-shaped hotel struck a chord, World Intellectual Property Review (June 2, 2023)

Kyle Jahner, DeSantis taunt in Disney typeface tempts trademark punchback, Bloomberg Law (May 4, 2023)

Isaiah Portiz, 'A Lot of Gray' for NFT Artists Despite MetaBirkins Jury Verdict, Bloomberg Law (Feb. 10, 2023)

Ephrat Livni, Value in the Virtual World, N.Y. Times DealBook Newsletter (Feb. 9. 2023)

Isaiah Portiz, Are Shoes Art? Wavy Baby Case Tests Trademark, Expression Line, Bloomberg Law (Sept. 8, 2022)

Tim Ryan, Battle on Offensive Trademarks Hits High Court, Courthouse News (Jan. 17, 2017)

 

Shay Castle, Fight brewing over political ads in Colorado, Daily Camera (April 25, 2016)

 

Trevor Hughes and William M. Welch, Feds fight over who owns national park trademark, USA Today (Jan. 8, 2015)

 

M.L. Nestel, Big Tobacco Tries to Snuff Out T-Shirt Artist, Vocativ (June 26, 2014)

 

Lydia DePillis, The color purple: Not just for Cadbury anymore, Washington Post Wonkblog (Oct. 4, 2013)

   

Jeff John Roberts, Rupert Murdoch's Wife Won't Get Twitter Handle Back Any Time Soon, paidContent: The Economics of Digital Content (Jan. 4, 2012) 

    

Social Work: How Can Brands Get The Most Out of Twitter, World Intellectual Property Review 12 (Sept/Oct 2011)

   

Jeff Roberts, Insurer sues Twitter imposter who cheers death, mayhem, Reuters (June 9, 2011)