Can I Register A Trade Mark For A Hashtag?

Can I Register A Trade Mark For A Hashtag?

Author: Ian Aldridge, Progressive Legal

Register A Trade Mark For A Hashtag

In the ever-evolving landscape of social media and business, hashtags have emerged as powerful tools for organising and categorising content. They have revolutionised the way we communicate and connect online. With their growing influence in business marketing, the question arises: Can you register a trademark for a hashtag? In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of trademark law and explore the possibilities and limitations surrounding trademarking hashtags. Join us as we unravel the enigma and shed light on this fascinating aspect of intellectual property in the digital age.

What is a Hashtag?

# Hashtags are common features on social media platforms used to portray messages. This means you can search and view specific content by clicking on the hashtag and everything that includes that tag will be displayed.

By adding a hashtag to a post, users can make their content discoverable to a wider audience interested in that particular subject. Hashtags serve as clickable links that lead users to a feed of other posts that include the same hashtag, enabling easier navigation and engagement with relevant content.

They have become an integral part of online conversations, trends, and marketing strategies.

Hashtags are now used by businesses to promote their brand, products, and campaigns, increase brand visibility, engage with their audience, categorize content, and collaborate with influencers, thus enhancing their social media marketing efforts and reach.

Can I Register A Trade Mark For A Hashtag?

Section 17 of the Trade Marks Act 1995 defines a trade mark as follows:

“A trademark is a sign used, or intended to be used, to distinguish goods or services dealt with or provided in the course of trade by a person from goods or services so dealt with or provided by any other person”.

Therefore, when the words of your trade mark are behind the # symbol and it’s becoming well known in the marketplace that the hashtag belongs to your brand, a hashtag trade mark should be registered.

The same Law will apply as a standard trade mark application. If the # symbol is followed by an overly descriptive term, it may not be able to be registered as a trade mark, just in the same way as if the # were not there, but run it past us to see.

The “#” itself is likely to be considered by IP Australia in most circumstances to be “non-trade mark material” in the same way “” domain extensions are not. However, sometimes, a brand might accumulate enough value in the “#” itself that it becomes trade mark material as well. Example might have been Slack, the communication tool, before it re-branded.

IP Australia has some more information here.

What’s the process to register a trade mark for a hashtag in Australia?

The Australian trade mark registration process is conducted through IP Australia, which is the governing body of all registered intellectual property in Australia.

After filing a normal trade mark application for your hashtag, you will receive a notice of filing within a few days. You’ll obtain confirmation from IP Australia that the mark has been applied for and a priority date allocated.

From there, it usually takes 2 or 3 months for the mark to be formally examined by a trade mark examiner, at which point they will indicate whether IP Australia has any objection to the mark, or if IP Australia thinks anyone else would have an objection.

How much does it cost to register a trade mark for a hashtag?

We charge a flat fee $950 + GST + government charges to file a trade mark, then $350 + GST for ongoing management of the trade mark up to final registration.

The government charges are $330 per class per application for a headstart application and $250 per class per application for a straightforward application.

Key Takeaways

To summarise, hashtags play a crucial role in social media marketing for businesses. They help promote brands, products, and campaigns, increasing visibility and engagement. Hashtags aid in content categorization, making it easier for the target audience to discover relevant posts. Collaborating with influencers using specific hashtags can amplify brand reach. Therefore, taking steps to protect your hashtag should be part of your banding strategy. Get in touch with our experienced trade mark lawyers by filling out the form on this page or call 1800 820 083.

*NB// The contents of this article are information only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please seek specialist legal advice in relation to your particular situation.

(c) Progressive Legal Pty Ltd – All legal rights reserved (2023)

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