While the coronavirus crisis has devastated economies around the world and led to a decline in overall economic activity, it has spurred a large number of trademark applications starting with the word “Covid”.
According to data from the EU trademark office’s “TmView” service, here are some basic figures relating to Covid-related trademark applications since the beginning of the year (up to 4 August 2020).
Total number of applications
Top 3 classes in order
42 (scientific and technological services, pharmacological services)
Top 3 countries for most applications
Covid is clearly finding its way into hundreds of product and service names. It is not surprising that there are many trademark applications for Covid-related trademarks in the healthcare sector, including software solutions for the healthcare industry. In our earlier post about social movement trademarks (such as “Black Lives Matter”), we noted that most trademarks referring to social movements or events are for clothing. The same is true for Covid-related trademarks. Class 25 (clothing) is the most popular trademark class for them. A quick review of Amazon reveals a large number of Covid-related apparel and accessories.
While Covid does not directly describe for example clothing, it is highly unlikely that EUIPO or other trademark offices would accept “Covid” as such without additional elements distinctive. It is likely that it would be considered non-distinctive even for those goods and services that it does not describe in any manner. It is also possible that trademark offices refuse Covid trademarks on public policy grounds.
In order for “Covid” to be registrable (distinctive), it needs to be combined with either a distinctive word or figurative element. Below are examples from EUIPO how they assess the distinctiveness:
Examples of word trademarks that EUIPO has found acceptable are “Covidir” and “Covidor”. An example of a refused trademark is “Covid Manager”.
It is doubtful that Covid-related trademarks will have much long term value in most sectors. As said, it is not possible to get exclusive rights to the word itself. Hopefully, the Covid pandemic subsides as soon as possible and Covid merchandise fiddles away with the virus. It is unlikely that when the pandemic is over people will be buying Covid-related clothing and other merchandise. It is difficult to imagine a truly valuable Covid brand, successful in the long term, emerging from the current crisis. For the healthcare sector, the situation might be different. Even after the pandemic is over, there will probably be a need for Covid-related products or services, and for those Covid-related trademarks may have value. For everybody else, Covid-related trademarks are probably a waste of money.