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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

Coronavirus May Be Many Things, But It’s Almost Certainly Not a Registrable Trademark (in the U.S.)

Whether you or a loved one has contracted or been treated for it or you’re a college student whose Spring Break plans were derailed by it or you’re simply one of the millions of people worldwide whose work and personal lives have been disrupted by it, the coronavirus (and the illness it can cause, COVID-19) has forced all of us to reprioritize the things we once considered most important. Nevertheless, there are always those who would try to turn an epic tragedy into a financial windfall, regardless of the ethical or moral implications of their actions.

Most of us applaud those who are selflessly putting themselves in harm’s way to treat suffering patients, provide essential goods and services (like toilet paper and sanitary wipes), or just keep Netflix and HBO streaming into our homes, but it’s hard to imagine anyone thinking it would be a good idea to register a trademark for CORONAVIRUS or COVID-19. And, yet, that’s exactly what’s happening at the USPTO.

As of this writing, more than 200 (yes, 200+) applications for registration have been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for everything from “Please, Disinfect” to “We Cured COVID-19” to “We Survived Coronavirus 2020.” Not surprisingly, some of the marks are more creative than others, such as “Love in the Time of Corona” (for an astonishingly long list of apparel items totaling at least 1,000) and “Class of COVID-19” (for sweatpants and sweatshirts) while others are just plain silly like “Please, Viruses” (for cards, pictures and exhibits) and “FXCK COVID-19” (for hats and shirts) and “2020: The Bug War” (for biomedical educational goods and services).

Still, it should come as no surprise that the chances of any of these marks actually receiving approval for registration are about the same as the coronavirus disappearing of its own accord by just in time for April Fool’s Day.

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