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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Research
Jun 12, 2020

Old Law, New Tech, and Citizen-Created Hashtags: #BlackLivesMatter and the Case for Provisional Hashtag Marks

Abstract

Using #BlackLivesMatter as a case study, this research documents the tensions and harms associated with trademarking online social movement hashtags. Grounded in the work of critical race theory and intellectual property scholars, this study analyzes the inconsistencies in the United States Patent and Trademark Office application practice. The contradictions signal a limited or “mis”understanding of the utility of citizen-created hashtags and online social movement slogans. We propose a provisional networked trademark that would grant limited protection to social movements in order to show that their mark demonstrates the kind of secondary meaning required for a traditional trademark.

View Publication on UNC Library

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