It didn't take long. There are already 11 trademark applications pending in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for marks including the word "CORONAVIRUS". The first of these applications was filed on February 4, 2020, (CORONAVIRUS SURVIVAL GUIDE) and most recently on March 13, 2020 (I SURVIVED THE CORONAVIRUS/ COVID-19 OF 2020!). Certainly there will be more to follow.
CORONAVIRUS SURVIVAL GUIDE is associated with services for "Magazines in the field of survival, protection, medicine and pandemics", and was filed by Centennial Media LLC of New York. The application is based on Intent-to-Use.
I SURVIVED THE CORONAVIRUS/ COVID-19 OF 2020! is associated with services for "Imprinting messages on tee-shirts." Tessie Santiago of Naples, Florida filed this application as Intent-to-Use. She apparently filed this herself, no attorney of record is listed.
The goods and services of the other marks can be found on the USPTO website
They include goods or services ranging from prerecorded audio cassettes and audio tapes featuring music and record albums, to every conceivable article of clothing, primarily T-shirts, and buttons.
A search for COVID-19 yielded similar results.
While one of the COVID-19 marks are associated with vaccines, for the most part these marks appear to be used as slogans, and not to designate a source of the goods or services. A slogan is a type of phrase, or "a brief attention-getting phrase used in advertising or promotion" and "a catch phrase used to advertise a product." A slogan may be registered when used in a trademark sense and functions as a trademark or service mark.
However, if a mark consists entirely of a slogan that is generic, merely descriptive, merely informational, or is otherwise not being used as a mark, it is not registrable. When the slogan is a component of a mark with, e.g., a logo, the slogan must be disclaimed. Clearly many later-filed applications for clothing will be refused as conflicting with earlier-filed applications including the same or similar wording, even assuming they can pass the slogan test. While the entrepreneurial spirit of the applicants is admirable, the trademark strategy may ultimately be refused.
Please contact our COVID-19 Task Force
and our Intellectual Property Practice Group
for more information.