The year 2020 has created high emotions amidst a presidential election, movements, and a pandemic. Whether these instances cause fear, uncertainty, opportunities, anger, or happiness, the entire world is in it together. This year is especially unprecedented as everyone is affected in some aspect by any one of these issues.

As such, these issues create interest in the intellectual property realm, generating more trademark applications. The following lists five common reasons these issues heighten trademark pursuit:

  • Uniqueness: Often, a pandemic or movement brings about a new term (at least a term not familiar to much of the public). For the entire world, one of the most commonly heard terms this year is “coronavirus.” While coronaviruses have been around for ages, each new strain is given a name of its own. In the current pandemic, the coronavirus strain is known as COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.” One of the qualities of good trademarks is that they are unique or distinctive and help consumers identify with products and services. Generic names that are common cannot be trademarked. Therefore, when a new global term comes along, it is not unusual for people to want to capture the word as their own.
  • Ownership: As the world’s population experiences the pandemic together, it brings a sense of belonging. Everyone is affected in some sense, from mask mandates, to contracting the actual virus, and even experiencing detrimental effects of the virus. Applying for a trademark gives people a sense of ownership and a sense of control.
  • Emotion: The BLM movement this year has spurred protests and riots. As such, strong emotions accompany this movement. Therefore, people may file for trademark applications with the hope that the movement remains relevant and important.
  • Capitalization: People apply for trademarks during movements and pandemics in the hopes of capitalizing on trending terms. As such, some trademark applications this year include “I heart COVID-19,” “Quarantini,” and “Social Distance Fitness,” among others. Common products people hope to use include T-shirts, other clothing, mugs, and more.
  • Misunderstanding: Many people hurriedly apply for trademarks with the misunderstanding that the first to file wins the rights to the trademarks. However, the first to file applies to patents, not trademarks. Often, people misunderstand that that they cannot simply rush to own a trademark just to own it; they must have a viable use for a product or service associated with that trademark.
As you can see, pandemics and movements spark many emotions that lead people to try and capitalize on specific terms associated with those issues. However, there is much misunderstanding in these circumstances. As such, applying for trademarks associated with these issues is typically a waste of time and money. Stay tuned for next month’s newsletter to learn about the main reasons why trademark applications are often denied in these circumstances.