The majority of these Applications have been filed in March 2020, although a few showed even greater foresight by applying for protection in February. Numerous US Trade Mark Applications covering items of clothing have been filed, including Coronavirus Outbreak, Coronavirus: Made in China, FXCK CORONAVIRUS, I SURVIVED CORONAVIRUS 2020, COVID KIDS, Covid-19 SURVIVOR, Class of COVID-19, WE BEAT COVID-19 and the following logos:
Inevitably some would wish to protect products for the prevention, testing and even cure of the virus with a US Application for COVID-19 VAX covering ‘vaccines’, a UK Application for COVID-19 Rapid Test covering ‘medical diagnostic apparatus’ in Class 10, and a Mexican Application for COVID-GEL covering ‘antibacterial gel’ in Class 3.
More unusual tie-ins include a Mexican Application for CORONAVIRUS covering ‘beers’ in Class 32 (presumably a nod to Corona beer), an EU Application for CORONAVIRUS covering ‘agricultural and hydroponic crops, horticultural and forest products’ in Class 31 and a UK Application for COVID-19 covering ‘game boards for trading card games’. However, the most bizarre must be an Italian Application for CORONAVIRUS WINES SOTTO AL CENTRO LA MOLECOLA DES VIRUS (‘Coronavirus Wines the virus molecule under the centre’) covering ‘wines’. Any one fancy a glass of that?!
Many events have now been disrupted and postponed due to the virus and this has also led to some opportunistic trade mark applications. The Euro 2020 football tournament and Tokyo 2020 Olympics will now take place in 2021 and, although it has been stated that they will continue to be called Euro 2020 and the 2020 Olympic Games, non-official UK Trade Mark Applications have recently been filed for EUROS 2021 and Tokyo 2021 and an EU Trade Mark Application has been filed for EURO 2021.
This is not the first time we have seen a flurry of trade mark applications in response to significant news events. Since March 2015, there have been at least 87 trade mark Applications filed across the world in countries as far afield as Portugal, Mexico, Japan, Turkey, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Estonia and Russia for trade marks for, or containing, ‘BREXIT’. Examples of such trade marks are English Brexit Tea, The Brexit Baker, THE BREXIT BLEND, Blame it on Brexit, BREXIT – THE MUSICAL, BREXIT 2 VIENNA, BREXIT CHRISTMAS TREES and BREXIT VODKA, and French Applications for FREXIT BREXIT and Brexit Bus.
The phrase ‘Make America Great Again’ (and ‘MAGA’) is synonymous with Donald Trump, and indeed US Trade Marks for MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are owned by DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT, INC.
As might be expected, a lot of individuals and businesses have sought to associate themselves with this soundbite, some with a more satirical nod than an homage to the US President.
We have noted French Applications for MAKE YOUR COFFEE GREAT AGAIN! and MAKE LAGER GREAT AGAIN, EU Applications for a LET’S MAKE LOVE GREAT AGAIN logo, Make Europe Great Again and MAKE CAMPING GREAT AGAIN, an Indian Application for LET’S MAKE MEAT GREAT AGAIN, numerous Applications for MAKE OUR PLANET GREAT AGAIN:
Numerous US Applications have co-opted and corrupted the MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN slogan, some with a political spin (MAKE THE DEMOCRATS GREAT AGAIN, MAKE THE PRESIDENCY GREAT AGAIN, MAKE HILLARY GREAT AGAIN), some displaying an incongruous combination (a LET’S MAKE JESUS GREAT AGAIN logo, MAKE PRISON GREAT AGAIN, MAKE COLONOSCOPY GREAT AGAIN!, MAKE NORTH KOREA GREAT AGAIN, MAKE YOUR TOILET GREAT AGAIN, MAKE CANNABIS GREAT AGAIN, MAKE DOGS GREAT AGAIN), and others with a keen sense of humour (MAKE LAWYERS GREAT AGAIN).
It is not only major worldwide events and news that invite surges in new Applications for particular trade marks. Trade mark squatters also often try to take advantage of celebrity names and other global ‘super-brands’ by quickly applying to register these as trade marks when they launch. A recent example is SUSSEX ROYAL, the brand that Prince Harry and Meghan were intending to use before the Queen allegedly refused to consent to its use. Harry and Meghan filed UK Applications in June 2019 and at the beginning of 2020, after announcing they would be stepping down as senior Royals, several individuals rushed to file trade mark applications outside the UK for different variations of SUSSEX ROYAL for a range of goods and services, in anticipation of the mark becoming Harry and Meghan’s global brand name. In the USA, IP lawyer Joel Fogelson, among others, applied to register SUSSEX ROYAL, in relation to “Communications by computer terminals; Transmission and delivery of video, audio, and data via the Internet and wireless communication networks”. Mr Fogelson is reported to have filed the US Application to ‘teach Harry and Meghan a lesson about planning ahead’, after finding the mark was available in the US; however this backfired somewhat, as Harry and Meghan had in fact already filed an International Application designating the USA a week before. Otherwise they would have had to take action to prevent Mr Fogelson’s application, as the protection automatically afforded to the word ROYAL in the UK does not extend to other countries.
Trade Mark Registers around the world can often be surprisingly interesting barometers of global trends and events, and experience shows that it pays to get in very early with Applications for your high-profile brands. If you don’t, you may find yourself wasting valuable time and resources fighting a canny “entrepreneur” who has beaten you to it.