Virus-Themed IP Applications Are Coming in Droves. Will Any of Them Cure COVID?

by: The Knowledge Group

July 02, 2020


Suddenly, there is an influx of IP applications related to COVID—the word, not the vaccine. The federal government has received a trademark application for a COVID Key—a sort of army knife for opening things without touching them—and an array of other catchy names to adorn clothes and hats. Many of the pending 1,500+ trademark applications hint at the search for an opportunity within the crisis. From the clever (“COVID Couture”) to the groan-worthy (“It’s not just clean; it’s COVID clean”), the entries are coming in at a pace never seen in previous disasters, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The patent and trademark office has sped up its online application process, and relaxed the filing timelines, while out-of-work people are looking for ways to make money—and have time to concoct ideas.

Scant Gold to Be Prospected in the Trademark Rush

Some applicants seem to think reserving intellectual property rights is like squatting on a website domain. But a trademark is meant to make sure people are not confused about the identity of a company that advertises to them. There is more to the investment than the trademark application fee, which can cost up to $375. A proper application also involves using the mark in commerce and marketing.

Then, there are the weeks of waiting time, during which anyone can oppose a trademark application. Every correction or new appended evidence costs an applicant hundreds of dollars.

So, although some of the applications involve worthy concepts, such as declarations of thanks to key workers and medical personnel, very few are likely to turn out profitable for their creators.

Is There Any Medical Hope in this IP Rally?

Some applicants are represented by IP lawyers. Some assert that their proposed trademarks will be used for healthcare products, or to inform the public that businesses and other locations are sterile or safe.

The Los Angeles Times writer, Ronald D. White, takes special note of the application from Truvian Sciences, a start-up seeking FDA approval for new, inexpensive coronavirus blood tests currently under development.

No doubt, there are a few princes in the stack. But the trademark officers will be kissing a load of frogs to find them.