Can you trademark a hashtag #HASHTAG?

Can you trademark a hashtag #HASHTAG?

  • 06 July, 2018
  • Nyall Engfield

A hashtag can be trademarked like a word or logo trademark, so long as it is used in association with goods or services to show a unique origin or source for those goods. This means the hashtag must be actively used in commerce, serving as a branding tool that connects your product or service with the public.

When you trademark a hashtag, it doesn't prevent the public from using it on social media, but it does offer legal protection against other companies in the same industry using it to compete with you. This is particularly crucial for businesses looking to secure their marketing campaigns or brand identity on platforms like Twitter, where hashtags play a significant role in content discovery and engagement​.

Trademarking a hashtag offers several benefits. It enhances your brand recognition, making it easier for customers to find and engage with your content. It also provides legal grounds to act against infringement, helping to protect your brand identity against misuse or exploitation by competitors. Furthermore, a trademarked hashtag can integrate seamlessly with your marketing campaigns, fostering a stronger connection between your online presence and your business offerings. Companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi have successfully trademarked hashtags like #cokecanpics and #sayitwithpepsi, showcasing the power of hashtags in modern marketing strategies​ (Digital Nomads)​. The mere addition of a hashtag doesn't make a descriptive or generic trademark registrable, however. Also filing in all caps will cover you for either upper or lower case.

To trademark a hashtag, you must demonstrate its use in promoting or selling your products or services, similar to any other trademark application. This includes conducting thorough searches to ensure no one else has trademarked your chosen hashtag, identifying the appropriate goods or services category, and submitting an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The process involves a review period and potentially responding to any issues raised by the USPTO. It typically takes about a year to officially register your mark, during which you can still use the hashtag in your marketing activities​ (StartupNation)​.

For more detailed guidance on the process and to ensure your application meets all legal requirements, consulting with a trademark attorney is highly recommended. They can provide expert advice, help navigate the complex trademarking process, and develop a strategy that aligns with your brand goals​

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