The new 2019 coronavirus, also called “COVID-19”, is currently a topic that is present in the last months on the front page of all online and printed publications, whether from the private environment or from the official institutions. Today, 31 March 2020, the virus has affected more than 787.438 people in 200 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances, and has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Given the popularity of the name, an increasing number of individuals, businessmen and companies are trying to seize the opportunity to obtain the registration of a name that is already known internationally. Thus, if the holders were able to register a name with such a high level of awareness, they would no longer have to invest money in promoting the brand because the name is already known to the entire recipient public.
The registration of a virus name as a registered trade mark requires its use to be granted exclusivity in relation to the goods and services filed towards registration. At present day, no less than 13 applications have been submitted at the end of February – beginning of March, requesting protection in relation to clothing, pharmaceutical products, cuttlefish, disinfectants and so on, if one of the applications will be successfully registered, The proprietor could prohibit use by other third parties (for example, if the name “Covid-19” is registered for clothes, the proprietor of the trade mark could prohibit use by third parties of an identical or similar name affixed to garments, or could provide license/franchise contracts to companies that want to produce and use the registered trade mark legally).
As we can see below, the majority of individuals and companies seeking exclusivity for the name of the virus, come from the areas most affected by the “Covid-19”, namely Italy (101,739 cases), Spain (87,956 cases), Germany (67,051 cases) and the US (164,359 cases).
Situation of the trade mark applications filed towards registration regarding the words “Covid-19” and “CORONAVIRUS”, updated on 31.03.2020:
For the entire territory of the EU Member States:
- “CORONAVIRUS”, the EU mark filed towards registration by several individuals in Spain, namely Alejandro de la Hoz de Miguel, Jesús Santamera Hermoso and Daniel Gutiérrez Bernardo (seeking protection for essential oils, cleaning preparations, horticultural and forestry products, beer and alcoholic beverages).
- “COVID-19”, filed towards registration by individuals VANGELI RICCARDO and VANGELI ANTONIO (seeking protection for disinfectants, pharmaceutical products, software, clothing, advertising and software design).
In the USA:
- “COVID 19”, filed towards registration by the company the Edibles Club LLC (seeking protection for clothes).
- “we RED COVID-19”, “TOGETHER we suRVIVED COVID-19” and “I SURVIVED COVID-19”, all filed towards registration by an individual from the United States of America, Charles McDermott (seeking protection for clothing protection, medical information provision and charitable funds raising).
- “COVID-19 VAX”, filed towards registration by the company and still, LLC (seeking protection for vaccines).
- “CORONAVIRUS”, filed towards registration by Ganiere company, Harley Lawrence (seeking protection for audio-video, T-shirts and sepci, entertainment services).
- “CORONAVIRUS SUVIVAL GUIDE”, filed towards registration by CENTENNIAL MEDIA LLC (seeking protection for magazines in the field of survival, medicine and pandemics).
- “CORNAVIRUSRX”, filed towards registration by the company quality innovations Inc. (seeking protection for artificial respiration instruments and thermometers).
- “COVID – 19”, filed towards registration by individuals Manuel MADROÑAL PAZOS and ALVARO ALONSO CAYETANO (seeking protection for hygienic and pharmaceutical products, sanitary, surgical and hygienic masks).
- “Corona-virus”, filed towards registration by individual Wagner, Bernhard (seeking protection for chemicals, software, printed materials, organization of events and medical services).
In Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg):
- “COVID-19 SURVIVOR”, filed towards registration by the Italian company Francesco PRATESI d.b.a INNOCENTI sas di Pratessi Francesco & C. (seeking protection for clothing protection and clothing printing service).
As all applications have recently been filed for registration, trade mark offices in those territories have not yet issued a refusal or a decision to admit to registrations in question, but the chances to be registered without any objections are very low. If the trade marks would get through the examination procedure by the trade marks offices, there would be a high risk of disputes between trademark owners overlapping at territorial level.