24 February 2020TrademarksEdward Pearcey

‘Opportunistic’ COVID-19 trademark application ‘likely to fail’

A COVID-19 trademark application filed in the US is likely to fail as it’s too descriptive, said a representative of an IP analytics company.

The application, one of several referencing the virus since the outbreak, was filed for the term ‘ COVID-19 VAX’, on Saturday, February 15, and is currently ‘awaiting examination’.

As trademarks can’t really be descriptive, said Robert Reading, director, professional services and strategy, CompuMark, the attempt is “likely to fail that particular test”.

“This appears to be an ‘opportunistic’ trademark application, looking to be first to get onto the record with a new word or phrase while it is in the early stage of acquiring public awareness,” said Reading.

“This is not uncommon. For example, after President Trump mistyped ‘coverage’ as ‘covfefe’ in a tweet over 70 trademark applications were filed at registers around the world for ‘covfefe’ for everything from kimonos in Italy to energy drinks in Switzerland,” added Reading.

But what makes this application different is that rather than trying to cash in on a well-known term for unrelated business purposes, added Reading, this application specifically targets vaccines which makes it directly related to the COVID-19 name.

The application was filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office ( USPTO) by And Still, a Massachusetts-based company. According to media reports, And Still is registered to a private address, and earlier in February also filed an application to trademark ‘CORONAVAX’.

The World Health Organisation ( WHO) released the name of the virus in early February, and on the same day application number 88792612 was filed for 'COVID-19 VAX' in Class 5 covering “vaccines”.

“While it’s possible that the applicant has good intentions or is actually looking to release a vaccine, the USPTO also has provisions that prevent the acceptance of applications filed in bad faith, or which are not actually used in the course of business for the product described,” said Reading.

There have also been separate applications for ‘CORONAVIRUS’, for goods and services including "entertainment services in the nature of live vocal performances by a musical and vocal group", and ‘CORONAVIRUS SURVIVAL GUIDE’, for "magazines in the field of survival, protection, medicine and pandemics".

Updates on COVID-19's impact on IP can be followed on WIPR’s live blog.

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