As expected, the worldwide IP offices are facing large numbers of trademark applications with the COVID outbreak itself. As of today, 27 April 2020, there were 61 of 151 records containing the word COVID in US trademark database. The question is who will get it?
Probably not any one due to the fact that widely used generic terms cannot be considered distinctive trademarks to any particular individual or company. How about COVID-20?
The appropriate question should be, “Can abbreviations or acronyms be protected as trademarks?” The simple answer is “Yes”, as long as the acronym or abbreviation has a distinct meaning apart from the generic or descriptive term presented.
An acronym or abbreviation can acquire distinctiveness within the market through a long-term use, advertisements and sales used with that particular product or service. However, most of the COVID applications are likely refused due to indistinctiveness or the applicant’s inability to present the mark’s actual use on goods or services.
Not all COVID-19 trademark applications are invalidated. As seen with the word-mark “COVID-POCXPRESS” filed in Class 10, owned by a Delaware company named Thermogenesis. Though the mark easily reads as an abbreviation of “COVID Point-to-Care Express”, and the company already owns the trademark “POCXPRESS”. It appears legitimate for Thermogenesis likely to expand their brand name to include “COVID”.
As such, if only a few can be registered trademarks and “Google” records point to these facts, then why are there still a number of such applications? My best guess is that perhaps they were misguided by some get-rich-quick scam relating to the sale of trademarks.