People are trying to trademark the terms “coronavirus” and “COVID”

Not only is it in bad taste, they don't seem to understand how trademarks work.


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While the better part of the world is heavily vested in containing the spread of the coronavirus infection, some lesser people are trying to trademark the terms “COVID” and “Coronavirus”.

According to Bill Donahue from Law360, several applications have been filed to trademark the said terms.

As of this week, at least a dozen applications have been filed at the USPTO seeking to register trademarks surrounding the coronavirus.

Here’s what Donahue wrote:

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“One filed by a New York company wants to register “Coronavirus Survival Guide” as a trademark for “magazines in the field of survival, protection, medicine and pandemics.”

Another, filed by a California man, aims to register “We Cured COVID-19” as a mark for both apparel and “providing information in the field of medicine.”

Incidents such as these aren’t new; at times when there is viral news or a major event, both organizations and individuals try to trademark and copyright terms surrounding such incidents and make money in the process.

However, such profiteers fail to understand the fact that the US trademark system does not simply hand out trademarks just because someone filed the necessary paperwork for it.

“For starters, U.S. trademark law doesn’t simply reward whoever is quickest to file a piece of paper with the government. Applicants must show that they have a bona fide intent to use the term on a particular set of goods and services — something most “coronavirus” applicants are unlikely to do,” wrote Donahue.

Though a strong urge to profit, even unscrupulously for that matter, maybe a potential motivating factor behind attempts such as these, a lack of sound understanding of the trademark law might also be a possible explanation.

Trademarks are a consumer protection tool that helps identify or authenticate a product, service, or any other commodity. In essence, trademarks are simply identification labels.

Going by this definition of a trademark, someone trademarking the term “coronavirus” would be suggesting that they are somehow involved in the making of or the origin of the virus. Trademarking of the term just because a company or individual wants to use the phrase isn’t how it’s supposed to be done.

As always, it seems as though some individuals, or rather many, are simply confused among the terms trademark, copyright, and patents.

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Naga Pramod

Naga Pramod is a computer science major and tech news reporter with a passion for cyber security, networking, and data science. [email protected]