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Hashtags As Intellectual Property


The emergence of liberal markets across the world has become a feeding ground for the new marketing techniques and key players in market are now coming up with fresh approaches in the field of marketing their products. In the recent times, the classical methods of marketing are proving to be redundant as consumers have become tech savvy and that they can only be catered by the methods which are more novel and unique. The technology also have played a big role in the transformation of marketing techniques and has provided new marketing platforms such as social media, web portal etc. One of the recent and most unique methods of marketing products is through # hash tags.

Hash tags is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications to identify messages on a specific topic. The initiator of a hash tag has an intention to maximize the reach of the topic to the people and it also serves as a common platform for a topic. The content become viral and results in the generation of a #tag, which then garners the attention of a wider audience. The companies then try to en-cash upon these moments of publicity and promote their product while increasing their association with the consumers.

Have you protected a Hashtag on Social Media?

In the current regime, the hashtags have taken over Social Media and started a trend to use a hashtag for any specific content or things that can ultimately boost consumer engagement with your business. Hashtags began on Twitter and now have spread to other major social media websites also like Facebook, Google+ and Instagram as well as to communicate in general. On Twitter, Tweets with hashtags elicit double the engagement of tweets without hashtags. Therefore, it is very relevant to incorporate hashtags into your business as starting up an Intellectual property and marketing strategies. Here the question arisen is what is the legal mechanism to do so?

What is Trademark Registration ?

Trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design or a combination of those that identifies and distinguish the source of goods of one party from those of others. Extensive use of trademark makes the users/clients to remember your product through the mark. Through trademark registration or you can say logo registration/brand registration, you can protect your brand or logo by restricting other people from using the same. For e.g. the logo of MCDONALD'S and their tagline I M LOVIN' IT is a registered brand name. We can say your trademark result in building the images of the company which finally build the goodwill of your corporate. Trademark Registry gives the protection on the each brand name with the logo in their respective trademark class. A registered trademark is an intangible asset for a business and is used to protect the company’s investment in the brand or symbol. There are 45 Trademark classes where you can register your brand name in the type of the field which is related to your business or where you want to protect the brand or trade name.After Trademarking your logo or brand, a registered TM number which works as trademark license is assigned within a period of three days by Trademark department but it takes almost two years for it to be registered so that you can use to use ® symbol with your brand name. It is always advised to get trademark registration or brand name registration because getting your company registered will not protect your brand against those who might initiate using identical or similar marks.

Trademark Registrations or TM Registrations can be done through Herambindia in Nagpur, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai & all other Indian cities. You simply follow our step by step instruction given in our web site and provide required information to our team. Herambindia will submit your application to the registry on your behalf, monitor the registration process and update you timely. You need not go to the registry to know the status of your application; you just visit our site and get the updated information on registration your trademark. Our team will update the status online very regularly.Before trademarking, make sure to check trademarks availability and it should be your first priority if you want to start a company. Trademark public search is an important step before trademark registration. You need to do a close search for trademark name as it will help you to avoid future problems.

In case of any objection or litigation, Herambindia expert team will represent your case and handhold you till the completion of registration of trademark.

We discuss our fee transparently and charge you nominally for the professional services we render to you. You are rest assured that there will be no more hidden charges for the registration of your trademark.

Normally the applicant shall use the letters "TM" along with their mark once your application is accepted by the registry. Similarly, once the registration of your trademark is completed, you shall use the letter "R" along with your trademark or name.

Heramb India is Trademark Registration consulatants in Nagpur, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai & all other Indian cities. Heramb India has trademark registration offices in Nagpur, Indore, kolkata, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai & all other Indian cities.

Why loose this opportunity when your trusted friend Herambindia supports you all through the registration process. Engage us and enjoy our services.

Does Hashtag come under the category of Intellectual Property?

As Hashtags are not the ideas or inventions subject to patent in India and of course are too short to qualify for the copyright registration. So, the best way to secure hashtag rights is by Trademark protection. Yes, you can Trademark a Hashtag for your business purpose. Therefore, only one category of Intellectual Property can have a hashtag.

Read more: What can or can’t be trademarked?

Why is a Hashtag used?

A hashtag contains a symbol “#” and is often used in various kinds of social media websites to identify or facilitate a search for a keyword or topic of interest. Whenever the user adds a Hashtag to his/her post, it is able to be indexed by the social network and becomes discover-able by other users.

What are the factors considered to Trademark a hashtag?

Out of the other Intellectual Property, the Trademark Law considers mainly the two conditions to qualify a hashtag for Trademark filing:

It must be graphically re-presentable

It must be distinguishing the goods and services of one person from another person.

We can clearly see that the first condition is fully qualified as it is a combination of words and numerals which is represented graphically. But the problem arises with the second condition that is an ultimate test for a hashtag to qualify as a Trademark. As per the Trademark law, it is not easy to achieve the second condition. A Trademark is a kind of source identifier and the hashtags which can fulfill this criterion can qualify for registration under the Act.

The absolute grounds of refusals are given and under the section 9 subsection (1) of the Indian Trademark Act 1999 states that:

“The Trademarks which are devoid of any distinctive character means not capable of distinguishing goods or services of one person from those of another shall not be registered.”

Analyzing the section, we can say that hashtags which are in distinctive nature can be registered as a Trademark under the Indian Trademarks Act,1999. Therefore, hashtags which can fully satisfy the two essentials that it is in a distinctive nature or have become distinctive within a period of time can be said to be qualified to be protected under the law.

The distinctiveness contains the two things:

  • Inherent
  • Acquired
  • And yes, a hashtag falls under the above two categories. It may either be inherently distinctive in nature due to it being an invented word or it may be something that tends for a longer period of time such that the people start to identify the particular source through hashtag only. Moreover, it shall also be kept into the mind that applying a hashtag to a common word or generic word would not make it a trademark as putting a hashtag will not make it distinctive. The trademark needs to pass the test of distinctiveness of Trademark provided according to the Act. Read more: 7 reasons why trademarks are important to your business

    Where to place a Hashtag?

    You can use before a number (like “#9”), the hashtag will be viewed as meaning number nine despite hashtag nine. Besides, if the hashtag symbol is separable from the other part of the hashtag then the company will likely have to disclaim the symbol (#INGENUITY) for business consultation services had to disclaim or not claim rights to the hashtags symbol.

    How the hashtag can be dis-positive which is being used?

    The Hashtag is not protect-able in terms of social media campaign or to index a social media message. If a company uses a hashtag in its social media or advertising material it doesn’t mean that it warrants trademark protection. It must be used like any other trademark which is an Intellectual Property to identify the source of a good or service.

    What types of goods and services identified directly affects whether the hashtag is protect-able?

    It is hard to describe a hashtag merely with the underlying goods and services. For example: by using the hashtags #coffee for a coffee shop does not identify the source of the coffee but merely identifies the relevant product class. On another hand, “#Starbucks” specifies the source of coffee. Likewise, The slogan of Nike “Just do it” is still considered a trademark when it is hashtagged as #JustDoIt. In a nutshell, hashtags must be followed the same trademark rules as words and symbols that must signify a specific source of goods or services.

    Read more: Consequences for trademark infringement

    what is register-able ?

    The first is tied up with what may or may not be registered as a trademark. A trademark is a sign that is capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one company from those of another. In sum, it allows consumers to identify the source of a product or service. While a #hashtag alone is a generic symbol with no source-identifying significance, used in conjunction with a product name or campaign tagline it may function in the same way as a trademark and be register-able as such.

    Used in this way, a hashtag is a simple yet powerful means of stimulating interest in or reactions to an event, product or service. But while such use can promote a brand, product or service, generate sales and boost brand recognition, it does not automatically turn a brand name or advertising slogan into a register-able trademark.

    So when exactly is it possible to register a hashtag used in a marketing campaign as a trademark? Guidance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) states: “A mark comprising of or including the hash symbol (#) or the term ‘hashtag’ is register-able as a trademark of service only if it functions as an identifier of the source of the applicant’s goods or services.”

    Hashtag trademarks that have been successfully registered as such in the United States include: #smilewithacoke and #cokecanpics (The Coca-Cola Company), #McDstories (McDonalds), and #makeitcount (Nike).

    In the United Kingdom, a mark is registerable if is distinctive and has the capacity to individualize the goods and services of a particular undertaking. If such a link exists and the mark does not communicate a message that could apply to any other undertaking then, as with other trademarks, a hashtag-based mark is register-able.

    The Risks & the Rewards

    With all the things required, the company should always remember the amount of time the hashtag will be valuable to the company. Apart from any substantive refusals, It often takes between six to eight months for a mark to be registered. But it is not likely to be worth pursuing registration for hashtags with a short-term use.

    How do things stand then when it comes to using a brand’s hashtag trademark? Does including a brand’s hashtag trademark in a social media post make you liable for trademark infringement?

    If the use suggests that there is a connection or link with the trademark owner, or creates a likelihood of confusion or association with the trademark owner, then there may be grounds for infringement. This, however, is not the case if the post containing the hashtag trademark is simply promoting the intended social media message.

    For further more information related to trademark registrationform, the procedure of registering a trademark, documents required for trademark registration, you can call us at 8788091087. Our experts are available here to advise you the best in the matter of register logo. You can also send your query on Email: info@herambindia.com. Visit our website: Herambindia and through the Trademark search, you can protect yourself from the matter of Trademark infringement.

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    21 July, 2018

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