Think Twice Before Applying For “Coronavirus” Related Trademarks

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Whether it is a typo in a president’s tweet or simply the word “The,” trademark hopefuls are quick to jump at the opportunity to obtain a trademark in virtually any and all phrases. Recently, the terms “Coronavirus” and “Covid-19” are no different.

As the Covid-19 pandemic sweeps across both the world and the United States, many onlookers may be considering whether to apply for trademarks in Coronavirus, Covid-19, or any number of related phrases. In fact, some companies and individuals have already submitted Covid-19 related trademark applications. For instance, multiple applicants have already sought use of Covid-19 or Coronavirus to place on apparel, and one company even registered for a Coronavirus phrase to use on magazines focused on the pandemic.

However, just as the USPTO ultimately determined with “Covfefe” and “The,” terms using Coronavirus and Covid-19 likely will not be given trademark protection. Put simply, one of the most basic tenants of trademark law is to identify the source or origin of goods or services through use of a mark. When anyone sees the term “Covid-19” or “Coronavirus,” they likely will not think immediately of an apparel line or other product; rather, they will think of the virus itself. As a result, the USPTO is unlikely to grant any trademarks in Coronavirus or Covid-19. Thus, anyone considering seeking such trademarks should closely evaluate their likelihood of success.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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