Wednesday, May 15, 2013

#Hashtags and #hashtag Ownership: Intellectual Property and Company Trademarks vs. Descriptive #hashtags

Via LexisNexis
the blog Business Law Post
has a nice piece on Who Owns #Hashtags?

An interesting intellectual property question
is posed by Twitter #Hashtags
as regards #hashtag ownership,

which can arguably be viewed from the standpoint of
  • company #trademarks ( probably #hashtagprotectable )
  • descriptive #hashtags ( probably #hashtagunprotectable ).
Descriptive names of companies such as in the hashtags
#Apple viz. #apple
present a more complex legal issue
since such generic-appropriating companies
have essentially taken such general terms
from the public good (together with the goodwill affiliated with such terms)
without payment of any compensation to the common weal
and thus should not be afforded any protection by law
for what is essentially a "stolen" word.

Trademarks and copyrights
have something to do
with the sometimes perplexing legal question of 
"who owns the words?"

We see nothing wrong with protecting "invented" one-word combinations of words applying to specific products, i.e. something like #applecomputer, or in our own right #lawpundit, but a company should not be able to obtain monopoly rights on the words #apple or #computer any more than we could impossibly obtain monopoly rights on the words #law or #pundit.

Can it be that some legislatures and courts out there
do not understand the difference?

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