Trademarks and How Applications are Affected by COVID-19

A Federal Trademark is a powerful thing. Trademarking a phrase or logo allows you or your business to prevent others from copying what makes you unique. Think of Nike. Everyone immediately recognizes a Nike product by the “Nike swoosh logo.” Think of Google, Yahoo, and Twitter. All three of these were unique names that at one time had no meaning. Now these companies are recognized world-wide, and they have broad power to prevent anyone else from copying their logos, words, and phrases.

The best logos and phrases (known as “wordmarks”) are things completely unique. That is because not everything can be trademarked. For a trademark to be registerable, it must be used in commerce, be inherently distinctive, and not be similar to any previously registered trademark. For example, Donald Trump tried to trademark the phrase “You’re fired” in 2004 after it became popular on his reality tv show “The Apprentice.” His trademark attempt was denied not because it was not inherently distinctive, but rather because it was too similar to the already trademarked “You’re hired.” Currently, Ohio State University is attempting to trademark the word “the”, independent of “The Ohio State University” which has already been trademarked. The application was preliminarily denied last year, because the United States Patent and Trademark Office found “the” to not be inherently distinctive as to serve as a “source indicator” for the university. Ohio State issued a responsive argument challenging the USPTO’s decision in March 2020, and the matter is still ongoing.

If you have an idea for a trademark, contact the attorneys at Shinners & Cook. Our attorneys have successfully filed countless trademark applications in the past and are ready to assist you in getting your logo or wordmark registered as well.

Please note, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, the USPTO has suspended the filing deadlines for trademark applications, resulting in a longer than normal wait time for trademark applications to be reviewed and registered.


5195 Hampton
Place Saginaw, MI 48604

Shinner & Cook

Shinner & Cook