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Connelly v. Uniroyal, Inc., 75 ill. 2d 393, 389 N.E.2d 155 (1979).

The recent case of Connelly v. Uniroyal, Inc. presents an interesting combination of two separate areas of the law: trademark and strict products liability. These two areas, while differing in the scope of protection offered, have evolved from one basic policy, that is, a deep concern for the welfare of the purchasing public. The former protects the consumer economically by theoretically assuring that the purchaser will, in fact, be buying what he intends to buy. The latter protects the consumer by holding a manufacturer strictly liable for injuries caused by its defective product. Both are based on warranty theory, and each is supported by the rationale that enforcement of the law will encourage the manufacture of better products.

There are, however, some differences. Strict products liability accomplishes its objectives directly, by allowing the injured consumer to bring suit against the manufacturer and others in the distributive chain. Trademark law has developed a more circuitous route to achieve its purposes. Protection is not given directly to the consumer but to the trademark owner who, in order to prevent public deception, can bring an infringement action against those who copy or imitate his mark. Thus the mark owner becomes the “vicarious avenger” of the public’s injury. At least in theory, the consumer should be able to continue to rely on the trademark as a symbol of the quality he has come to expect from products bearing the mark because of the mark owner’s self-interest in protecting the goodwill that he has established in his business via the mark.

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