So you’re promoting your website, product, or service with an #AwesomeHashtag. You want to protect your creative genius. Can you trademark a hashtag? How do you trademark a hashtag?

Yes, you can trademark a hashtag. And you trademark it like any other source identifier. That is, if your hashtag is used to identify your product/service/website/brand, and it’s not overly generic, you can likely trademark it. The tough part may be proving that the hashtag is in fact used to promote your business. Trademark registration requires proof of a “specimen.” A specimen is a photograph (or screen capture) of your trademark in use on your product or service. In other words, you can’t just trademark #Awesome because you like to post it on Twitter. However, if you own a bar and print #ThirstyThursdayThrowdown on flyers, you’d probably be in luck (assuming this trademark isn’t registered).

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has actually commented on this. In the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure, they cautioned: “The addition of the term HASHTAG or the hash symbol (#) to an otherwise unregistrable mark typically cannot render it registrable… When [the government is] considering [approving] a proposed mark containing the hash symbol, careful consideration should be given to the overall context of the mark, the placement of the hash symbol in the mark, the identified goods and services, and the specimen of use, if available.”

To sum up the USPTO, the government will reject your hashtag trademark if it generic. Sorry, but you probably can’t get #email. But #ThirstyThursdayThrowdown may get approved. So if you’re ready to #ProtectYourBrand, think up a great hashtag and give us a call.