Can You Patent a Hashtag?
You’ve finally come up with the perfect hashtag to rile your fanbase, so you might be wondering whether you can patent your hashtag? The USPTO offers various forms of intellectual property protection, among those protections is patenting your invention to restrict others from using it without your consent. So, can you get a patent on a hashtag? Read below to find out.
A patent grants an inventor a monopoly over his invention for a limited period of time (20 years for a utility patent and 15 years for a design patent). To qualify for a utility patent, an inventor must show that he has invented a new invention, machines, process or design. So, do hashtags qualify for patent protection? We answer this directly below.
Can You Patent a Hashtag?
The short answer is: no, you cannot patent a hashtag because patents are meant to protect inventions, processes, and designs, not words or phrases. So, if you have a hashtag that you want to protect, patenting is not the way to do it. If you have a hashtag that’s important to you or to your business, you can, however, protect it by registering it with the trademark office.
So, why can’t you patent a hashtag? Hashtags cannot be protected by patent because patents are meant to protect machines, inventions, processes, and designs. Unfortunately, hashtags do not fall within any of the categories that patent law protects.
The patent office does not consider hashtags to be inventions protectable by patents. Also, hashtags don’t qualify for design patent protection because there’s no unique design or appearance that can be protected since hashtags only consist of words preceded by the number sign.
Trademarking Your Hashtag
So, now that you know that you cannot patent a hashtag, how do you protect your intellectual property? You might be able to register your hashtag with the trademark office.
In addition to offering patent protection, the USPTO offers applicants the opportunity to register their trademark. If you can successfully register your hashtag with the trademark office, you will be able to stop others from using the trademarked words of your hashtag to refer to them as the source of goods or services.
To qualify for trademark protection, you will have to show that you’re using the words in your hashtag to refer to you as the source of the product or services. Said differently, you will have to prove that a portion of the public associates you or your business with the hashtag you’re seeking to trademark.
Said differently, you will prohibit others from using your hashtag to advertise their products or services. Also, if someone else uses your trademarked hashtag to advertise their products or services, you will be able to sue them for trademark infringement.
If you’re successful in your lawsuit, the court will grant you a court order, telling the party that’s using your trademarked hashtag to stop their infringing use of your hashtag.
However, you should note that by trademarking your hashtag, you cannot stop every use of your hashtag, you will only be able to stop others who use your hashtag to promote products that compete with the ones that you’re offering.
Does Your Hashtag Qualify for Copyright Protection?
No, hashtags do not qualify for copyright protection. Copyright law protects artistic works, such as novels, songs, movies, and plays. Copyright protection does not apply to hashtags, which are made of short words or slogans. Once again, trademark protection is the most suitable method to protect your hashtag. So, exactly how do your trademark your hashtag?
How to Trademark Your Hashtag?
You can trademark your hashtag by filing a trademark application with the USPTO. The trademark office has an online filing portal that you can use to file your trademark. You will have to provide information, such as your name, the name of your business, the date on which you first started using the trademark, as well as what class of products or services your trademark applies to.
Once you’ve completed the online trademark application, the trademark office will issue your trademark application a serial number. You can then use the serial number to track the status of your trademark application.
You should periodically track the status of your application because the trademark office might require additional information to process your application. Also, the trademark office might issue an office action that you have to reply to within a certain time, to get your application approved.
After filing your trademark application, an examining attorney will be assigned to your application. The attorney will either approve your application or make objections to it. If no objections are made, no amendments or responses are required, your hashtag will be published with you as the owner. From the date of publication, you will enjoy all of the rights associated with having a federally registered trademark.
Benefits of Registering Your Hashtag with the Trademark Office
There are benefits to registering your hashtag trademark with the patent office. By registering your hashtag, you can discourage other parties from using your hashtag. You can do this by adding the ® symbol to your hashtag. Adding this symbol tells others that you’ve taken legal steps to protect your hashtag from misuse.
Also, by registering your hashtag as a trademark with the trademark office, you will send a message to others that you or your business owns the registered hashtag. This discourages other parties from claiming that they are the owners of the registered hashtag.
Additionally, by registering your hashtag, you gain the right to sue parties that infringe upon your trademark in federal court. If your lawsuit is successful, you’ll be able to stop them from misusing your hashtag. Also, you might be able to recover any damages that you sustained as a result of their misuse of your trademark, as well as any attorney fees that you incurred as a result of taking legal action against them.
Why Do People Want to Protect Their Hashtags?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that hashtags are commonly used in connection with social media posts. Companies often spend a ton of money advertising their products and hashtags. They have become so important that consumers often associate certain hashtags with a specific brand or business. Therefore, protecting them is very important for businesses that spent tons of money to make them as popular as they’ve become.
Patenting Your Hashtag
By now, you probably understand that hashtags don’t qualify for patent protection. Also, they don’t qualify for copyright protection, making the only available means to protect your intellectual property to trademark your hashtag. However, you have to use your hashtag as an identifier of your goods or services to qualify for trademark protection. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.