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Trademarks and #Hashtags

30 September 2022

Trademarks and #Hashtags

Social media platforms have become a key tool for brand marketing for all kinds of businesses, whether they are up-and-coming or established players. Of course, a significant component of social media is the hashtag, which enables users to link information to a particular subject, problem or brand, among other things.  

In 2021, it was estimated that roughly 125 million hashtags are used every day.  

“Hashtags can be a useful tool in helping businesses or individuals increase their brand awareness amongst consumers,” says Jon Chan Wenqiang, a partner at Ravindran Associates in Singapore. “Hashtags can increase a business’ searchability in social media and help consumers remember or associate a business to a particular hashtag. However, the use of hashtags could backfire if consumers or the public react to the hashtag with negativity or ridicule. [There have been] some hashtag public relations disasters, such as McDonald’s #McDoStories which led to users employing the hashtag with negative claims of fingernails in burgers and airline Qantas’ use of the #QantasLuxury during a time when thousands of passengers were stranded overseas.” 

Hashtags enable business to boost impressions, improve content’s searchability, and encourage more people to talk about a brand. Since each hashtag is individually searchable, companies use a wide range of hashtags including “product and services hashtags”, “brand hashtags”, “business specific hashtags” and others to seek audience traction.  

“Another important aspect of how hashtags are beneficial to digital marketing is through simple connections,” says Ankita Sabharwal, an associate at Chadha & Chadha in Gurugram. “It connects people on a personal level by allowing them to express their feelings or common interests about a certain subject. This is helpful to a digital marketer as it means 24/7 feedback. For any product or company that has a following, there will always be someone talking about the product and posting their thoughts on social media.” 

She adds: “While hashtags can increase reach and searchability, use of inaccurate hashtags can also turn potential consumers away. Considering the virality of hashtags, brands have to be extremely cautious to not use hashtags which may have negative connotations as the same can prove to be disastrous for a business.” 

Given the many benefits that hashtags can bring to businesses and potential clients, so can you trademark a hashtag? According to both Sabharwal and Wenqiang, it seems that you can.  





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