Mikele Bicolli
Dec 9, 2021

Can You Trademark COVID?

Created at Dec 9, 2021, 11:54am PST

Try typing COVID in your search engines and you will likely get billions of results. Meanwhile a bit more than 2 years before, this and the coronavirus word were practically unknown. As Einstein once said “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”, patent offices worldwide are receiving a ton of trademark filings containing the word COVID. When you think about it, whatever product you offered to fight or protects from the coronavirus and naming it as Anti Covid or something similar, its success would be guaranteed no matter the quality of the product or price. But is it possible to get a successful registration?
To answer this, we need to find out a bit more about trademarks and their attributes. First of all, a trademark should show the origin of a product and actually distinct it from others. Does the word COVID distinct for example one vaccine from another? Not at all. As a matter of fact, the word COVID is an abbreviation of Coronavirus Disease and is not a generic word. You cannot give this word and phrases containing it to a product, won’t show origin or distinct the product from competitors.
Going ahead, the word COVID can also be considered as descriptive, especially when we are talking about trademarking medicines, vaccines or medical equipment and services. Trademarking a single product as “ANTI COVID Mask” for example would give a massive advantage to its owner and most likely create a monopoly.
The last argument that can be used in order to reject a trademark application for the COVID related phrases could be the deceptiveness. This depends on the legal system of each country but most of them would definitely reject phrases like “Corona Cure” or “Coronavirus resistant”. This restriction is highly important especially in the field of medicine where people are most likely to spend a lot while their health is at risk.
To conclude, the current laws about trademark should be able to protect us from people wanting to take advantage of the current situation. Most probably at the end of the pandemic there will be publications of which COVID related trademark names made it to registration. The results so far seem promising as even from China we have heard several agencies receiving fines for malicious registration of coronavirus related trademarks.