As the impact and spread of the new coronavirus Covid-19 increases, we are seeing many individuals and companies quickly adapt in an effort to curb the effect the pandemic has on their lives and businesses.

One way to achieve this is to look for entrepreneurial new ways of working under the protective measures currently in force, and to seek to protect the intellectual property rights these new ideas will rely upon. It is not surprising then that in these uncertain times people continue to apply to register trade marks for their businesses – including new marks relating to Covid-19.

In the last month, records at the Intellectual Property Office show that there have been applications for trade marks involving the words “Corona”, “Coronavirus”, and “Covid-19” across a range of goods and services. Some of these, as you might expect, are in relation to hand sanitiser or cleaning products, but the categories also include essential oils, beer, cider, clothing, accessories, and toys.

Some of these applications are perfectly sensible and may be approved, but for those of you alarmed that this behaviour feels like profiteering, you may be reassured to know that several others are unlikely to succeed.

There are certain things that can improve the likelihood of a successful registration, and also restrictions meaning that there are mistakes to avoid. One of these is that marks which are too descriptive in nature will not be registrable – for example, you would be unlikely to obtain a trade mark for the phrase “coronavirus testing services” in respect of those services. Similarly, anybody trying to register a coronavirus trade mark for alcoholic drinks may encounter resistance from a certain brand of beer… This is because the owner of an existing trade mark can prevent the registration of something similar if it might cause confusion, and in this case there is an argument that customers may think it’s a new product from that brand.

We always recommend that businesses seek professional advice when applying for a trade mark to help navigate the pitfalls and avoid wasting time and money. If you would like any assistance with protecting or registering your IP rights, please contact David Baines, Senior Solicitor in Intellectual Property and Commercial law on 0113 280 2214 or david.baines@luptonfawcett.law

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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