Did you know that 7 out of 10 hashtags used on Instagram are branded related?
In today’s digital age, social media plays a large part in a brand’s marketing efforts. Hashtag campaigns, in particular, have become increasingly popular to help build & track brand awareness and increase the visibility of products and services.
As with any marketing campaign, you want to ensure that your marketing message reflects the values of your brand and that the brand is not misused by other individuals and companies in the same industry.
YES, you can in fact trademark #CanITrademarkThisHashtag?, so long as you are demonstrating that you are using that hashtag to promote your product or services to the general public.
Hashtag Trademarks Registered in Canada
There are several large brands that have registered hashtags for trademark protection in Canada. Below are a few examples:
Shiseido – #sharebeauty
In 2016, Shiseido launched a global campaign that focuses on engaging with their community. The campaign is spread across many marketing channels (website, social media, print, video, etc). To prevent competitors or similar companies misrepresenting their hashtag, they took action and registered it as a trademark.
Image source: Shiseido Canada
Pepsi – #sayitwithpepsi
In 2016, Pepsi launched a marketing campaign with the #sayitwithpepsi registered trademark hashtag. This popular hashtag is still being used today on social media.
— Musabbb (@manlawei) March 24, 2018
Biosteel – #drinkthepink
The #drinkthepink hashtag ties directly to Biosteel’s pink sport drink product and is also used as a slogan. This registered hashtag trademark is a valuable asset for Biosteel.
Registering Your Hashtag Trademark
If the promotional time period of your hashtag campaign is short, it may be of no use to register it as a trademark as the registration and approval process can take 18 months or longer. However, if the hashtag will be integral to a longer term social media marketing effort, you should consider registering it as a trademark. That said, there may still be benefit to registering a hashtag trademark for a shorter marketing campaign as part of broader IP strategy; It would be advisable to consult with an experienced intellectual property lawyer in these matters.
Should you decide to proceed with applying for a trademark, Patrola Law can help you search, register and enforce trademarks to protect your intellectual property rights.