The POTUS published a tweet containing the mysterious 'covfefe' at 12:06 am on Wednesday, 31st May and predictably enough, a flood of applications to trademark the not-a-word began flooding in shortly thereafter.
More knowledgeable commentators than I have discussed the merits of the various applications and which, if any, will succeed. These discussions, for the most part, have focused on the applications submitted to the USPTO. A cursory glance at ExaMatch shows no fewer than 13 applications from 4 different countries with a filing date of 31st May.
The first US trademark application was filed at 8:46 am (EST) for the mark ‘COVFEFE COFFEE’ in Classes 30 (for coffee and coffee substitutes) and 40 (coffee-house and snack-bar services). But was it the first trademark application filed for ‘COVFEFE’?
Sweden is 6 hours ahead of the US and at 8:46 am EST, it was already afternoon in Stockholm. The Swedish application also includes goods under Class 30 (for coffee) along with Classes 25 (for clothing) and 35 (for advertising). A Swiss application also included goods in Classes 25 (for fashion) and 40 (also for fashion), while the UK application covered Class 32 (for Ale; Ales; Beer; Beer and brewery products; Beer-based beverages; Beers; Beverages (Non-alcoholic -); Flavored beer; Flavored beers.)
Does this create a situation in which we will now not only need to establish a priority filing date but conceivably also a priority filing time?
Leaving aside any discussions around copyright and trademark law and whether any of these applications have a reasonable chance of success, it is interesting to note that all of the above applications were made to registries which are party to the Madrid Protocol..
Should a claim for priority be validated and any European company decide to extend their scope of protection to the US under the Madrid Protocol, will they be able to set aside any other potentially successful applications if their application was filed first - even if on the same day?
Of all the possible gifts that the use of legal technology in the trademark world can bestow, the greatest will be the gifts of speed and visibility. Legal technology and artificial intelligence are designed to assist lawyers and in-house counsel to respond to market forces at the same velocity that their clients and customers need to.
The further development of harmonisation and global jurisdictions for IP will do much to mitigate against the kind of situation that ‘COVFEFE’ potentially presents today. The IP Offices of the future will offer increased digitisation and perhaps more frequent data updates than they do now, allowing potential trademark owners more ‘real-time’ visibility into trademark activity than is currently possible.
For lawyers and in-house counsel practicing in the here and now, rather than any kind of mystical future, the best defense is a great offense! Trademark Executive at TrademarkNow, Tiffany Valeriano and Richard Tromans from Artificial Lawyer host a webinar demystifying legal technology on Wednesday, 14th June. Join them to explore options in this new and swiftly developing space and learn how it could transform your practice.