Social media is not only a way for individuals to keep in-touch, it is also a way for businesses to improve their presence in the market. In fact, many companies are using social media as a means for communicating and serving their clients and customers. However, they are quickly realizing that they do not want their competitors to be involved in their “conversations.”
As a result, many businesses are attempting to protect their intellectual property on social networking sites by filing trademark applications for hashtags that directly relate to their product or brand.
A hashtag, which was first used on Twitter, is words or phrases that are preceded by a hash or pound sign. A hashtag is used to label the message or signal other Internet users that the post is related to a certain topic or issue.
According to the Wall Street Journal, research conducted by Thomson Reuters CompuMark, nearly 1400 applications to trademark specific hashtags were filed around the world during 2015. That number has been growing consistently since 2010, when just 7 companies applied to trademark hashtags.
Thomson Reuters CompuMark also discovered that the number of successful applications for hashtag trademarks is increasing. In 2014 there were 103 hashtag trademarks registered. In 2015, the United States had 1,042 applications, with Brazil having 321, France with 159 and the United Kingdom and Italy with 115.
Hashtags are being used by marketers as a way to get consumers tweeting about certain products or promotions. However, an issue arises because hashtags can be used by anyone, including competitors. Thus, obtaining hashtag trademarks may be the only way to protect this type of intellectual property.
The Wall Street Journal reports recent examples of hashtag trademarks are the #sayitwithpepsi, which was registered in Europe by PepsiCo last year, and #everydaymadewell, which was registered in the U.S. by clothing retailer Madewell.
If you need assistance with registering a trademark or help handling opposition to your trademark application, contact the legal team at The Swenson Law Firm to schedule an initial consultation.