As the Coronavirus continues its deadly spread across the globe, it comes as no surprise to hear that it has also reached trademark registers. On 11 February, the same day the World Health Organization (WHO) released the “official” name of the virus, the first “COVID-19” application was filed at the USPTO. According to the USPTO’s website, Application Number 88792612 was filed for COVID-19 VAX in Class 5 covering “vaccines”.
The applicant, AND STILL LLC, is registered to a private address in Shrewsbury Massachusetts. Ten days earlier, on 1 February, the applicant also filed an application in Class 5 for the mark “CORONAVAX”.
According to Robert Reading, Director of Professional Services and Strategy at CompuMark:
“This appears to be an “opportunistic” trademark application, looking to be first to get onto the record with a new word or phrase while it is in the early stage of acquiring public awareness. This is not uncommon – for example after President Trump mistyped COVERAGE as COVFEVE in a tweet in 2017 over 70 trademark applications were filed at registers around the world for COVFEFE (and for the word with additional elements) for everything from kimonos in Italy to energy drinks in Switzerland.
“What makes this different is that rather than trying to cash in on a well-known term for unrelated business purposes (COVFEFE as used by President Trump had no relevance to energy drinks), this application specifically targets vaccines which makes it directly related to the COVID-19 name. While it’s possible that the applicant has good intentions or is actually looking to release a vaccine, the US Patent and Trademark office also has provisions that prevent the acceptance of applications filed in bad faith, or which are not actually used in the course of business for the product described. Trademarks also cannot be descriptive – COVID-19 VAX is likely to fail that particular test.
“So regardless of the applicant’s motive – whether it is opportunistic, well intentioned, or filed for some other reason – the application is likely to fail and they will have spent time and the application fee for no return.”
AND STILL LLC does not seem to have commented publicly on its application. As such, its plans and motive for the mark, should it be granted (which seems unlikely), remain unclear.