Late last month, Donald Trump tweeted “Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” and he started a world-wide buzz of speculations of the meaning of this slightly confusing word. Soon thereafter, Per Holknekt, the founder of the Swedish clothing company Odd Molly International AB, claimed to have the right to the trademark COVFEFE and explained his expectations to make some serious profits internationally from this.
As it turned out, Holknekt had filed a Swedish trademark application on May 31 – a day after Trump’s tweet – for the word COVFEFE in the classes of goods that cover clothing, coffee, and advertising services. And now, Holknekt has potential trademark rights in Sweden to the word in respect to those goods and services.
His application needs to be examined, both with respect to formal aspects of the application, as well as potential bars of existing prior rights in Sweden before his trademark is allowed to be published for opposition. If no opposition is filed in the three months opposition period, his trademark registration will have gained legal force.
Regardless out of the outcome, Holknekt is right about one thing: He appears to hold an interesting potential trademark right that may be used as a basis for priority applications in other countries and regions. If an application is filed in another country within six months from May 31, 2017, he will be able to request the filing date of the Swedish application as his priority date. Therefore, such an application will have an older and better right than any national application filed in the country – including the U.S. – after May 31. This possibility exists whether or not the Swedish trademark application is accepted and registered.
It seems that Holknekt was not the only one who spotted this marketing opportunity. Christopher Chesterman of Bristol filed a trademark application for “Covfefe” in the United Kingdom on the same day as Holknekt for goods in class 32, which covers beers and non-alcoholic beverages. Also, on the same date, the company Saciri AG from Brig, Switzerland filed a Swiss trademark application for “covfefe” for “fashion, clothing” in classes 25 and 40. This classification appears to need some clarification.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., nine different applications were filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") for the term on May 31. Joel Vidal, an individual based in Florida, filed to register “COVFEFE” for use on men’s, women’s and children’s clothing. Arkansas-based Donald Woods filed an application for the term in connection with “Clothing; Headwear.” Southern California Barley Forge Brewing Company wants to register the term for beer, and newly-formed Covfefe LLC, which is based in Michigan, filed to use the mark for services, including “Advice relating to investments.”
Still yet, in Forth Worth, Texas, Kenneth Light filed an application for “COVFEFE” for clothing; New York-based Steven Pinsky filed an application for use on “t-shirts;” California-based “covfefe DBA covfefe” filed for the mark for “t-shirts and sweatshirts;” and John Gillard filed to register “#Covfefe” for use on clothing and accessories.
Last but not least (as of Monday afternoon), Virginia-based Kenneth Gallman filed an application for registration for “Covfefe Coffee”with the USPTO for “Coffee and coffee substitutes” and “Coffee-house and snack-bar services.”
There are surely more COVFEFE trademark applications to come in different trademark offices around the world. It will be interesting to see if we ever will buy a t-shirt with the trademark COVFEFE on it or if we will order a cup of COVFEFE in our local café - and whether the holders of any soon-to-be registered marks will try to prevent others from doing so.
Kristina Fredlund is a specialist in trademark law and works with all kinds of issues in this area at Awapatent in Malmö, Sweden. U.S.-specific additions have been made to this article, courtesy of TFL.