Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 539 U.S. 23, 7 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 23 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

the registration, use, and infringement of trademarks and related marks, 43(a), 15 U. S. C. 1125(a) is one of the few provisions that goes beyond trademark protection. As originally enacted, 43(a) created a federal remedy against a person who used in commerce either "a false designation of origin, or any false description or representation" in connection with "any goods or services." 60 Stat. 441. As the Second Circuit accurately observed with regard to the original enactment, however—and as remains true after the 1988 revision— 43(a) "does not have boundless application as a remedy for unfair trade practices," Alfred Dunhill, Ltd. v. Interstate Cigar Co., 499 F. 2d 232, 237 (1974). "[B]ecause of its inherently limited wording, 43(a) can never be a federal 'codification' of the overall law of 'unfair competition,' " 4 J. McCarthy, Trademarks and Unfair Competition 27:7, p. 27-14 (4th ed. 2002) (McCarthy), but can apply only to certain unfair trade practices prohibited by its text.

Although a case can be made that a proper reading of 43(a), as originally enacted, would treat the word "origin" as referring only "to the geographic location in which the goods originated," Two Pesos, Inc. v. Taco Cabana, Inc., 505 U. S. 763, 777 (1992) (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment),3 the Courts of Appeals considering the issue, begin-3 In the original provision, the cause of action for false designation of origin was arguably "available only to a person doing business in the locality falsely indicated as that of origin," 505 U. S., at 778, n. 3. As adopted in 1946, 43(a) provided in full:

"Any person who shall affix, apply, or annex, or use in connection with any goods or services, or any container or containers for goods, a false designation of origin, or any false description or representation, including words or other symbols tending falsely to describe or represent the same, and shall cause such goods or services to enter into commerce, and any person who shall with knowledge of the falsity of such designation of origin or description or representation cause or procure the same to be transported or used in commerce or deliver the same to any carrier to be transported or used, shall be liable to a civil action by any person doing business in the locality falsely indicated as that of origin or the region in which said locality is situated, or by any person who believes that he is or is


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