Companies rush to register ‘COVID’ and ‘corona’ trademarks
A raft of companies have applied to register trademarks in Australia including the words "COVID", "Corona" and "Quarantine", as the global COVID-19 pandemic leads to a surge in demand for products including hand sanitiser and disinfectants.
Publicly-available records show a NSW-based company applied to IP Australia, the government agency that administers intellectual property rights, on March 3 to register the trademark CoronaClean for use on detergents for household and medical use.
The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise i trade mark applications in Australia using the name of the virus.Credit:AP
A separate company in Newcastle applied on March 17 to register the name Covidex as a trademark for hand sanitiser and disinfectants including sprays and wipes.
A Brisbane man is seeking to register the trademark COVID-19 to market a broad category of services which may include education, television and news, while a Victorian company wants to register Coronavision in the same category.
And as self-isolation requirements and social distancing rules start to bite, a West Australian company has applied to register The Quarantine Concierge as a trademark for services including grocery deliveries and the delivery of meals, flowers, magazines and parcels.
All of the applications were made this month and have yet to be considered by IP Australia.
It is not uncommon for global events to trigger trademark applications, but some have proved controversial.
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight in March 2014 and the subsequent downing of the MH17 flight in July that year as the result of a missile attack led to several applications to register MH370 and MH17 as trademarks in Australia, including by the airline itself. Those applications were rejected.
One application to register MH370 for education services was initially rejected by IP Australia on the basis it "would offend a section of the community and is therefore scandalous" because of the "sensitive nature of the tragedy to the Australian public and the associated loss of lives".
The dispute over that application subsequently went to a hearing. The applicant said they were making "a genuine attempt to locate flight MH370 through 'impartial' educational means" and wanted to "restore public confidence in air travel".
A delegate of the Registrar of Trade Marks did not reject the application on the basis the proposed trademark was scandalous, but on the basis the word was associated with the missing aircraft and could not “distinguish” the applicant’s services from those of other traders, as required under trademark law.
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