The hashtag has been added to the lexicon of not only our writing, but also our speech. Indeed, it’s become so prevalent that Trademarkology’s Randy Michels reports that Merriam-Webster has added it to its dictionary, and defined it as “a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet).”
So it may be of little surprise as to what is coming next …
“The increased usage of hashtags has lead to a number of new trademark application filings. #TEAMJESUS, #RISETOTHRIVE, and #HELMETSARECOOL are recent examples,” says Michels. He reports that one applicant even tried to protect the actual word “hashtag” as it applies to TV advertising, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled it was a descriptive word of the services.
In a video discussing his blog post, Michels says he’s been seeing applications to protect trademarks with increasing regularity, especially in conjunction with contests that companies use to promote their products or services. However, he said the rules do not change when filing an application to protect a hashtag versus any other sort of trademark. The two questions to ask remain: Is it registrable and can it be protected?