Semiotica, diritti e mercato. Economia del marchio nel terzo millennio - Semiotics, law and market. Economics of trademark in the third millenium, by Giovanni Ramello This article is aimed at providing an answer, from an economic perspective, to the puzzling Shakespearean question "What’s in a name ?", drawing specific attention to the case of the trademark, a commercial device which has been used since antiquity and has continuously expanded its boundaries. Its advent is connected with the problem of information asymmetries and the need for providing information to assist exchanges so as to avert market failure brought about by adverse selection. However, this information-conveying function was soon accompanied by a differentiation effect, arising from the peculiar power that signs can exert on individuals’ preferences. The pragmatic exploitation of differentiation has today given rise to the practice of branding, which ties markets and consumption to the realms of meaning and experience. Further, branding is so all-pervasive in today’s economy that it has somehow transfigured the relationships between signs and goods, to the point that the trademark has become a sort of property right over semantic products. On the whole this opens the door to what could be termed as the new economy of signs and meanings that should be still investigated. Keywords: trademark, brand, intellectual property, economics of information, signs, semiotics. JEL Classification: O31, O34, K10, M30.