Quentin Ullrich

By William & Mary

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Real Consumer Language: A Corpus-Based Approach to Trademark Law

Trademark law seeks to foster consumers’ abilities to efficiently discriminate between products so that they can make informed purchases. If a word is understood to refer to a specific brand (such as Coca-Cola or Apple Computers), that word is considered to be a trademark. If a word refers to a general product (such as cola-flavored soft drinks or computers), that word is called "generic." In trademark law, the current, most empirical method for determining whether a mark is generic is through the use of surveys.

My project develops, tests, and evaluates the effectiveness of a potentially far more empirical, corpus-linguistics-based model for determining whether a word is generic. A corpus is an immensely large database of text that is annotated with syntactic data that allow for the statistical determination of how a given word is used (in this case, whether the word is being used generically). My cross-sectional analysis of a wide range of marks, conducted during the summer of 2015, strongly motivates my intention to develop a user-friendly model, to conduct larger-scale analyses of select marks, and to publish a paper documenting my method through an Honors Fellowship.

All William & Mary Honors Fellowships fundraising supports the Charles Center Honors Fellowships Fund. Direct support for individual undergraduate research projects is distributed by the Roy R. Charles Center for Academic Excellence. To learn more about Honors Fellowship, please visit our About page. If you have questions, please visit our FAQ page.


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38% Alumni

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25% Parents

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38% Friends

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Margaret Focarino
Dave & Gail Croall
Tina Ullrich
Mark and Tina Ullrich
Jake Waletzko
Matthew B. Siano, Esq.
Ann Bunger

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