As the spread of the corona virus continues, we also observe a spread of trademark applications filed in relation to COVID-19 around the World, including in Turkey. A few examples found on the Turkish Online Register are "COVID-19 CORONA VIRUS" / "CORONAMASK" / "ANTI-CORONA" / "CORONAREPELLENT". These trademark applications rage from a variety of classes for different kind of goods and services, but mostly related to classes 03, 05 and 10 that may apply to cosmetics, disinfectants, pharmaceutical goods and protective masks, directly related to the virus itself.
This trend, which seems to have started in early March 2020, is already seeing some applications in classes 03, 05 and 10 being refused by the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office, most probably due to the lack of distinctiveness and descriptiveness of these trademarks. However, other trademark applications, such as "A.C. Anti-Corona" filed in class 25 for clothing have been accepted at first instance for 3rd party opposition, which we understand are accepted due to the difference between the applied goods and the topic of Corona Virus.
Filing of such trademark applications has been observed in other countries, such as the US and across Europe, of which we believe, similarly to Turkey, most are likely to fail and will not be granted registration.
However, not all trademark applications related to COVID-19 are doomed to fail, and some companies may actually have a business interest in obtaining a trademark registration for work performed during this outbreak and in relation to the outbreak. A good example of this may be the trademark application recently filed by Apple Inc, for an app/website they launched aimed at COVID-19 guidance and information. Therein the logo filed consist of a virus-resembling device with the letter "i" in the middle. This example may show a legitimate and therein distinctive trademark application. It remains to be seen how many other trademark applications will be successful and actually be used for their intended purpose.
Originally published 20 May, 2020
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