Hells Angels Trademark Law Fetishism Investigation

Trademark law, the Hells Angels motorcycle club, and fetishism rendezvous in a single academic study:

Hells Angels™ Motorcycle Corporation in the Fashion Business: Interrogating the Fetishism of the Trademark Law,” Tereza Kuldova, Journal of Design History, epub 2016.  The author, at the University of Oslo, explains:

“This article investigates the social function and underlying logic of trademark law by using the unique and unconventional example of self-proclaimed ‘outlaws’, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, and their paradoxical utilization of the IPR law for the protection of their reputation and ‘goodwill’ in both legal and illegal markets. Hells Angels worldwide are passionate about legally protecting their club designs, logos and insignia, as well as logos and designs relating to their legal fashion and accessories businesses with support merchandise. Analysing the example of the Hells Angels and their relationship to their club insignia, it is revealed that the trademarked logos clearly function as fetishes in the anthropological sense. Consequently, it is argued that the trademark law protects precisely this power of the fetish over people, rather than being a mere protection against ‘consumer confusion’ or a mark of ‘origin’. Hence, it is argued that trademark law operates on principles of magic as identified by J.G. Frazer and thus belongs to a magico-legal realm rather than a realm of purely rational law as the legal discipline would like to argue. The power of designed logos is at the crux of the argument.”

Here is a copy of a legal notice the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has affixed to the bottom of its web site:

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(Thanks to Oliver Lehman for bringing this to our attention.)

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