4 Novel Trademark Developments We Saw in 2017

Current events quickly morph into trademarking sprees seeking to capitalize on what's in the news.
4 Novel Trademark Developments We Saw in 2017
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To date, 594,107 trademark applications were filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this year, which is a 12 percent increase from last year. Here are some of the most interesting trademark trends of 2017:

Make America...

In 2015 the non-profit organization, Donald J. Trump for President, registered the phrase “Make America Great Again” as a federal trademark with the USPTO. This year hundreds of people decided to take Trump’s trademark and add their own twist to it.

Related: President Trump Does This Every Morning -- and There's a Scientific Reason You Should, Too

Currently, there are over 150 active or pending trademarks with the phrase “Make America.” Some trademark applications that were submitted this year include: “Make America Date Again,” “Make America Thin Again,” “Make America Fresh Again” and “Make America Smart Again.” 

Take a knee.

For the better part of 2017, debate and controversy surrounding the NFL national anthem boycott dominated the news. Several key phrases were born out of this movement, including the phrase “Take A Knee.” Over the past couple of months, two individuals filed trademark applications to register the phrase “Take a Knee.” And recently, an individual in New York filed an application to register the phrase “Take a Knee America.”

Overall, there has been a surge in the number of trademark applications protecting slogans and phrases birthed out of protest movements (e.g. applications were also filed for such phrases “Women’s March” and “Proud to Protest”).

Related: Transgender Rights? Citizens United? Should Brands Get Political?

The Slants.

For years the Asian-American rock band, The Slants, fought for the right to trademark their band name. The USPTO had adamantly opposed registering the name citing the Lanham Act, which prohibits the registration of any trademark that could “disparage or bring into contempt or dispute any persons living or dead.”

This summer, the United States Supreme Court overruled the USPTO’s finding and allowed the group to move forward with registration. Since the ruling, there has been an uptick in the number of trademark applications that include or describe a racial trait or characteristic. Some recent trademark applications include: “Proud to be Latino” and “Harmless Black Man.”

Social media icons.

While many social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, began trademarking their company names years ago, this year was the year they finally began to receive registration certificates for their icons.

Related: What Is a Logo? Just the Beating Heart of Your Brand, That's All.

Instagram currently owns trademarks for their name as well for all their filters, such as Sierra and Hudson, and for their such abbreviations such as “Insta.” But, this year their camera icon was formally registered as trademark and so was Facebook’s thumbs-up like button. Facebook currently has 121 active or pending trademarks whereas Instagram currently has 75 active or pending trademarks.

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