A memorable and well-timed hashtag can be the difference between a well-received campaign and one that peters out without much notice.
It is perhaps unsurprising then, that a growing number of brands are turning to trademark law to stop others building off their past success.
There has been a 64% global growth in the trademarking of hashtags since 2016, according to trademark research company CompuMark.
The first application to trademark a hashtag was made in 2010. Since then there have been over 5,000 applications of which 2,200 were in 2016.
Some of the world’s most well-recognised brands have gotten in on the act. CompuMark highlights Marriot (#lovetravels) and T-Mobile (#getthanked) as examples.
The US remains the leader in hashtag trademarks, with 33% of all applications in 2010. However, this share dropped to 28% in 2016 from 35% in 2015.
The most popular trademark class is class 41, (education and entertainment services, shows, sporting events and training) which received 594 applications.
Class 35 (advertising and administration, business consultancy, marketing, online retail, recruitment) and class 25 (clothing, footwear and headwear) were the other most popular classes for applications.
Colombian-based broadcaster RCN Television S.A has the most applications, with 50 relating to its Grita Gol football programming.
“Even though overall organisations are registering more hashtag trademarks than ever before, there has been a slowdown in the rate of growth in the U.S. market, possibly due to the time and effort it takes for success,” says Rob Davey, senior director, Global Services, CompuMark.
“But what the overall rise in global applications does indicate is that brands are seeing the value in going through the proper trademarking process in all spheres, including social media, to make sure they are protecting themselves from possible infringement and mitigating the associated risks.”