What is a hashtag?
Well you don’t want be caught asking that question in the ‘Twitter era’! While some Twitter users might think you have probably been living under a rock, we’ll clarify your doubts. A hashtag, popularized by Twitter of course is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#) which is widely used on social media to identify messages or posts or “tweets” relating to a particular topic. It is a great way for a number of people to be part of the same conversation.
Hence it’s no surprise that companies too are joining the hashtag bandwagon. But that’s not all, to ensure protection of their marks and brand names on social media these companies are also filing for trademark application for these hashtags relating to their goods and services.
Hashtags have become perfect marketing tools in recent times. They have great social appeal and they make it simple for marketers to start a conversation or create some buzz about a particular product, promotional campaign, and brand or to link different posts and messages to current cultural events. However, the problem arises when the same hashtag is used by a rival company or a competitor. This is where a hashtag trademark can possibly ensure certain level of protection.
According to one research conducted by Thompson Reuters Compu Mark, a whopping 1,398 application were filed by various companies internationally with respect to hashtags relating to their trademarks. This is a substantial increase as only a mere 7 companies had filed for hashtag trademarks in the year 2010. As far as successful trade mark registrations go the number was 103 as of 2014.
In the hasgtag race, United States of America is leading as far as the number of hashtag trade mark applications go with 1,042 applications in total. It is followed by Brazil with 321, France with 159 and the United Kingdom and Italy with 115.
Hashtag campaigns are getting creative with each campaign. The more recent examples include Harley Davidson’s #RollYourOwn campaign, Nike’s #betterforit. Amongst successfully registered hasgtags the example are #sayitwithpepsi hashtag, which was registered in Europe by PepsiCo last year, and #everydaymadewell, registered by the clothing company Madewell.