Takeaway: The sky is the limit and creativity is rewarded when it comes to trademarking or patenting your innovation.
Since President Donald Trump’s now famous “covfefe” tweet stating, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (UPSTO) has received over 30 filings with variations of the word “covfefe.” Twenty-five of those filings were just attempted trademarks of the word, two more wanted to claim “Covfefe Coffee,” and two more wanted to claim #covfefe. The filings came from companies and individuals for items such as beer, beach balls, costumes, footwear, sandwiches, maternity outfits, and even clothing for domestic pets.
While covfefe is a not a dictionary defined word, it isn’t the first of its kind. If anything, made-up or coined words actually hold the highest degree of protection as a trademark, as being fanciful and inherently distinctive. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte filed a trademark application for the phrase “Jeah” on items such as sunglasses, workout DVDs, jewelry, mugs, water bottles, and T-shirts amongst other items. New York Knicks starter Jeremy Lin trademarked “Linsanity.”
Beyond nonsensical words, celebrities, politicians, and more have trademarked some of the most bizarre phrases, reflecting how widespread they consider their reach to be. Taylor Swift has trademarked song lyrics such as “this sick beat” and “party like it’s 1989.” Beyonce and Jay-Z trademarked their daughter Blue Ivy Carter’s name. Boise State University trademarked not only blue football fields, but any “non-green field.”
What about patents? William Purdy Hellings of Aurora Nebraska patented a mustache guard in 1890 to “enable the [with] a large mustache to eat or drink without being annoyed by his mustache getting into his victuals and mouth.” In 2010, Roy C. Sanchez of Las Vegas patented massage socks designed to relax your feet muscles inside your socks without removing your shoes. And in 2005, Michael E. Berglass of New York patented a jewelry toothbrush designed to remind you to brush your teeth after every meal by having a toothbrush with you at all times.
What does this mean for you? The sky’s the limit and creativity is rewarded in the realm of intellectual property law.