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Novagraaf at MarkMonitor’s Spring Symposium


MarkMonitor’s Spring Symposium was held on 3rd May. In case you missed it, Novagraaf’s Claire Jones was one of the speakers, giving a presentation on ‘#trademarks: a new frontier for brand protection’.

The presentation covered some of the intellectual property issues surrounding hashtag-based trademarks, focusing in particular on the registration and enforcement of these types of trademarks, and the benefits and pitfalls around these elements.

As there is currently limited guidance provided by intellectual property offices in respect of hashtag-based trademarks, many brand owners remain confused about whether they should apply for these trademarks. At the symposium, Claire Jones proposed considering the following points if you are using hashtags in your business’s content:

  •  Are hashtag trademarks registerable?

Potentially, if the hashtag trademark functions as a standard trademark, and satisfies the requirements for trademark registration. Applicants should be mindful that simply putting a hashtag symbol in front of a word or saying does not automatically turn that brand name or advertising slogan into a registrable trademark.

  • Are hashtag trademarks enforceable?

Potentially, as they can be enforced in the same way as any other trademark. But trademark owners need to be mindful of distinguishing between encouraged use of a hashtag by third parties as a communication tool, and unauthorised use of a hashtag trademark by third parties for the promotion of their own goods or services.

  • Are hashtag trademarks worth it?

Potentially, as they can be beneficial if used to promote a brand, however, businesses should be conscious of the risks of the #word or #saying going viral. Businesses should keep in mind that internet users can be unpredictable and can often take unkindly to those who too strongly enforce their online rights and restrict use.

If your business is considering applying for hashtag trademarks, Claire Jones recommends that you focus on these important points:

  • Invest time into carrying out research. Hashtags catch interest and can group conversations, so ensure that your #word or #saying is one that users will track.
  • Make sure your #word or #saying is as unique as possible, and try and avoid phrases or terms common to your industry.
  • Register trademarks or slogans that are core or important to your business and that have the potential to become viral through hashtag use.
  • Monitor and review social media platforms to see whether your trademark is being used as a hashtag, or what hashtags are being used by others.

If you are interested in applying for hashtag trademarks, please contact us.