Social Media Marketing: Can You Register A Hashtag?
Relationship between social media and a hashtag
The word or phrase Hashtag is preceded by a pound sign (#) widely used on websites and social media applications to identify messages on a specific topic. It is mainly used for social media marketing purposes. The initiator has introduced the hashtag with the intention of maximizing the reach of the topic to people and it is also a common platform for a topic. It has the ability to grab the attention of a large audience, thus leading to a generation called #tag. Social media is becoming an essential online marketing channel for brand owners for over 10 years using #hashtag. Now the most powerful weapon in the world of social media is, of course, #hashtag. This article will help you know when and how you can go through the trademark registration process, even if it is a trademark and hashtag.
Can you register a hashtag under the Indian Trademark Act 1999?
Of course, you can register a hashtag like any other word or phrase that is directly related to your product or service. There is a specific definition provided in section 2 (m) of the Indian Trademark Act 1999 and according to this “A mark consisting of a device, mark, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, number, shape of the products, packaging or even a combination of their colors “. By considering the above definition, a Hashtag can qualify as an accounting mark under a combination of words and numbers, but to register it as a trademark, the definition provided in the Indian Trademark Law, 1999 section 2 (ZB) –
“Trademark refers to the trademark that can be graphically represented and distinguishes the products or services of one person from those of others, including the shape of the products or their packaging and color combination”
By the definition above, the first condition is instantly met because the hashtag is a combination of words and numbers that can be represented graphically. The question arises in the second condition, which is a definitive test for a Hashtag to qualify as a trademark. Although, it is not so easy to achieve the essential or basically, the second condition. Hashtags have a very limited lifespan due to topics that tend to last for a short period before they die on their own in a short amount of time and some other topic and hashtag takes over.
The Trademark is a source identifier and the Hashtag that can meet these criteria can qualify for registration under the Law.
What are the reasons for the rejection?
Under section 9 of the Indian Trademark Act 1999, the actual reasons for denials are given in subsection (1) of section 9. It says that:
“A trademark that lacks distinctive character, that is, that is not capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of another, shall not be registered.”
If we look at this section, we can say that the Hashtag that can fully satisfy the two conditions of the 1999 Indian Trademark Law can only be qualified to be protected by the Law. The distinctive character mentioned in the Law can be classified in two categories:
Hashtag can easily fall into the two categories above as it can be a made-up word and it can be something that tends to last for a longer period of time so that people can begin to identify the particular source just through #Hashtag. In addition, one thing must also be kept in mind when applying for the Trademark Hashtag, the word to be used with a Hashtag must not be a common or generic word, otherwise it will not make it distinctive. The trademark must pass the distinctive character test of the trademark provided by law.
However, these digital tools become a very normal feature of the landscape. The culture of sharing that they often depend on can present some challenges related to intellectual property. Other than that, Hashtags trademark registration is still not very popular in India, but the fondness for social media is reaching a massive level due to the availability of cheap data with the introduction of Reliance Jio in the market. Suddenly, the Internet was flooded beyond everyone’s imagination. This will surely lead to the emergence of hashtags as trademarks in the near future as a hot topic in the intellectual property market.