Registering COVID-19 Trademark Applications – Illegal or Not?

In the months since the lockdown came into force, you no doubt have heard of persons or entities who have applied to register trademarks at India’s Trade Marks Registry, which contain the terms Covid, corona and variations on the term corona. The applications cover various goods and services starting from apparel to magazines, to financial/venture capital services, from medicines and pharmaceutical products, to hand sanitizers and even for an anti-virus software! This rush to file applications to capitalize on a trending term isn’t new.

An Outbreak of Recent Filings

Given that the terms coronavirus and Covid-19 have been a component of our daily lives for some time, it provides a robust opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the crisis by seeking trademark protection. By the look of the applications, most of the applicants don’t understand Indian trademark law and are simply hoping to exploit the present crisis. These attempts are not only in bad taste, but are also unlikely to steer to trademark registrations.

Fortunately, most of these applications will fail. The Trade Marks Registry doesn’t simply reward the primary applicant of a mark with dishonest adoption. Rather, to secure a trademark registration in India, a trademark applicant must either be using a mark in commerce on specific goods or services or have a bona fide intent to use the mark on such goods or services and not merely have an intention to reserve rights in the mark. Therefore, placing a slogan or adding a particular element comprising of the terms Covid, corona or variations of the term corona on a product will generally not be sufficient to secure a trademark registration, nor will it be considered trademark use.

Read the full article HERE.

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