It has been estimated that there are over 500 million blogs. Many of them have large readerships and tremendous commercial value. Like any other services, blogs can be protected with trademarks.

Protecting the blog’s name as a trademark brings many benefits. For example, if you protect the name, you may be able to prevent others from using similar URLs or using your blog’s name as a social media handle or username. You can also use the valuable ® symbol. That not only informs others that your blog’s name is protected, but it also conveys a message that it is a business that you yourself take seriously. 

In short, blogs benefit from trademark registration in the same way as other businesses. With that in mind, there are two particular issues for blogs that should be taken into account.

Is the name distinctive?

In order to be protectable as a trademark, the blog’s name (or logo) must be distinctive. This is a practical problem for many blogs because blog names tend to be very descriptive (). Examples of distinctive (and protectable) blog names include Mashable, TMZ, Engadget and Pinch of Yum.

It may be tempting to have a purely descriptive name for the blog. However, if the name directly describes the area in which you blog, the chances are it is not protectable. For example, a blog name “Simple Life” or “Plastic-free Earth” would not be protectable as a trademark. As with other businesses, it’s highly recommendable to choose a distinctive name. That is not only better for legal purposes, but also for marketing purposes. 

However, even if your blog’s name is descriptive and cannot be protected as such, you could protect a distinctive logo containing that name. You can see some practical examples and further information here

What kind of service is a blog?

When you submit a trademark application, you must include the list of goods and services your trademark covers. For example, Nike would include products like “t-shirts” and “bags”, Starbucks would include “coffee” and “cafe services”. 

The EUIPO does not accept “blog” as a sufficiently specific service. Rather, blogs are viewed as information relating to particular issues, such as fitness, finance, health, etc.

According to trademark classification, all services are divided into 11 classes. You can see a general description of the classes here. Here are some examples:

Blogs about finance → class 36

Blogs about fitness → class 41

Blogs about technology → class 42

Blogs about travel → class 39

Because legal services belong to class 45, our Reggster blog belongs to that class as well (not as a legal service, but providing information on legal matters). 

In the US, blogs are considered differently. They all fall under class 41. According to the USPTO manual, an appropriate way of specifying a blog is: On-line journals, namely, blogs featuring {indicate field or subject matter}. So regardless of the subject matter, they belong to class 41. In Europe, the subject matter defines which class the blog belongs to.

Sometimes it is difficult to specify the subject matter of a blog. For example, culinary blogs provide information about food (class 43) and nutrition (class 44). Also, “lifestyle” blogs cover a variety of topics, ranging from food to fashion, travel and technology. A trademark blog might also contain information about advertising or business consulting (class 35). It may be a stretch to think that it’s a form of entertainment (class 41).

Blogs are not only information services. Many bloggers use their platform to promote the products and services of others. This can take the form of product reviews, advertising banners or affiliate links. In this way, the blog is used as an advertising service for third parties (for example “advertising and marketing services provided by means of blogging”, class 35). In addition, blogs can feature online shops for products and services. These are essentially retail services, also belonging to class 35.

Often the purpose of a blog is to educate. For example, many blogs provide paid membership classes or courses, which belong in class 41 (education and instruction). Bigger and more popular bloggers also organise physical events (seminars, workshops, conferences, etc.).  These also belong to class 41.

Conclusion

Blogs at the commercial level are much more than just providing free information on any given topic. They can be complex businesses, just like any other service business (like a law firm or a photo studio). Like other businesses, they often have multiple revenue streams, and these might be even very different from the real subject matter of the blog. In this sense, Coca-Cola and Nike have it easy compared to blogs. Their revenue comes from selling physical and clearly defined products. 

When protecting the blog’s name, it’s important to think carefully what the service is really about. Limiting the scope of the trademark to just “providing information” is in most cases too narrow.