Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Recently, the beverage giant Coca-Cola sought to register two hashtags as trademarks namely #cokecanpics and #smilewithacoke. These hashtags are being used on Twitter in connection with the company’s soft drinks. The company used the hashtag #cokejourney on Twitter to promote personal development among Coca-Cola fans.
Hashtags consist of the hash symbol (“#”) followed by a word or phrase. Hashtags are a useful way to categorize conversations within multiple platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. A user clicks on the hashtag and can see the content posted by other users with the same hashtag.
Coca-Cola is not a pioneer in this area. There have been other companies who have applied to register hashtags as trademarks to protect their online campaigning. In 2014, a UK cheese company by the name Wyke Farms. They had sought to register an online competition ‘Free Cheese Friday’ as a trademark. The trademark is used only to protect the company’s online marketing campaigns.
The question that arises here is whether Coca-Cola will be able to register these two hashtags as trademarks. Hashtags can be registered like any other mark and the traditional rules apply. It certainly will be able to do so and it will be subject to how it plans to use these hashtags.
- Nayanika Singhal