A few days ago, in Coronavirus Legal Issues Around the World, Part 7: COVID-19 Related Trademarks, we discussed how the ongoing pandemic is spurring trademark registrations in the United States and China. Other countries are no exception to this trend, as evidenced by activity at the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM).
So far, there have been 10 applications including either the term COVID-19 or CORONAVIRUS, with applications made for a broad range of products and services included in the Nice Classification. The fastest claimant applied on February 25 for a figurative trademark including the term COVID-19 for different products in Nice classes 5 and 10 , including pharmaceuticals and healthcare or sanitary products, as well as different kinds of sanitary and medical masks. The mark I SURVIVED COVID-19 and its Spanish equivalent, YO SOBREVIVÍ AL COVID-19, have been applied for use on Class 25 products, including clothing, footwear and headgear. A public entity in the Basque Country has applied for two figurative trademarks including the term COVID-19.EUS (.eus is the domain for the Basque Country, whose name in Basque is Euskadi) for different products and services in classes 9 and 41, including a variety of IT applications and services. The figurative trademark including the term ASOCIACIÓN DIGITAL COVID 19 has been applied for services under classes 35, 38 and 45, including advertising, telecommunication services and legal services, among others. Meanwhile, a figurative trademark including the term COVIDWARRIORS has been applied for services under classes 42 and 44, including scientific and technological services, as well as medical services, among others.
There has even been an application for the mark CORONAVIRUS in class 3, for use in alcoholic beverages! Besides these applications, there are also other ones related, including images of a virus or the awareness ribbon related to the virus.
At the moment, all applications are pending, and hence we lack an indication of how OEPM will respond to this kind of request. However, it is reasonable to expect that at least some applications might be denied on the basis of absolute prohibitions. In particular, some of the above mentioned trademark applications could run afoul of Article 5(1)(f) of the Spanish Trademark Law (Law No. 17/2001 of December 7, 2001), which prohibits the registration of marks “which are contrary to the Law, public policy or morality.” A clear argument can be made that it is immoral to seek commercial benefit on the back of so much death and suffering.
We will keep you posted.