It was in the news that AB Inbev, owners of Corona (the beer) need to significantly increase efforts to protect its Corona brand.
Before COVID-19, the virus that is affecting our daily life was known as the Coronavirus. Many people even made the link with Corona beer. In March 2020 a CNN report tweeted out a survey saying that 38% of Americans are refraining from drinking Corona beer and there were a lot of google searches for “Corona beer virus” – and 16% were confused whether the beer is connected to the outbreak.
It is no surprise that trademark applications including the word “Corona” have increased since February 2020, as products emerge in the field of disinfectants to battle the coronavirus or other merchandise related to the virus (e.g. I SURVIVED CORONA t-shirts). Over 90 applications have been filed in US and Canada, going from disinfectants and corona test equipment, to toys and clothing.
Why do the virus and the beer share the same name?
The coronavirus is a name for a whole family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases range and the first case of the coronavirus was discovered in 1960. The name is derived from the Latin corona, meaning “crown” or “halo”, which refers to the characteristic appearance reminiscent of a crown around the virus particles.
Corona, original beer from Mexico, was created in 1926 and is named after the Spanish word “crown”. A crown also appeared on their first logo.
What is Corona doing to protect his brand?
AB InBev has over 65 registered trademarks in Canada and the US for its Corona brand, including slogans such as “Corona protect our beaches”, covering much more goods than only their beer (e.g. clothing,
Frederico Bueno Icaza, global IP director at AB InBev, says there has been a significant uptick in trademark enforcement activity to protect the corona beer brand as the company seeks to protect the brand from potentially infringing and opportunistic applications. Trademark applications for e.g. selling t-shirts including “corona” will or are likely opposed by them.
Furthermore, they are trying to expand their current trademark for the beer with 7 additional current trademark applications filed in April 2020, covering goods such as sunglasses, stickers, key chains and tags, resin Christmas ornaments, ice buckets, clothing, toy foam novelty items, namely, beer bottles, face masks, and printed signs.
A trademark will not be accepted by the trademark examiner in case it is confusing with another mark. Whether or not a trademark is confusing is assessed from the perspective of the consumer: would they think that the marks are from one and the same owner? The similarity of goods and services of the marks is consideration that is made to see whether their can be can be confusion. The reason AB Inbev applies for wider coverage in April 2020 for their Corona brand is to be able to more easily block other people for filing trademark applications for Corona in the field of merchandise because of confusion.
Need help with implementing a trademark strategy?
Are you sufficiently protecting your brand by implementing a trademark strategy? This includes strategic trademark filings to expand coverage when you are using your brand for a broader range of goods and services in the jurisdictions where it matters. It also includes trademark monitoring to be able to identify and act against infringers promptly, in order to prevent your brand from becoming “generic”.
Stratford can help you with branding, trademark searching, trademark strategy and obtaining trademark registration. Operating as a full-service trademark firm for the US and Canada (and working with trademark partners worldwide), Stratford Intellectual Property can ensure you’ve got peace of mind when it comes to trademark protection.
Stratford Intellectual Property has been helping companies build, protect, and get the full value out of their intellectual assets since 2009. Our passion is innovation. When you call on us to design and execute your IP strategy or to manage your IP portfolio, you get access to a unique blend of IP and business expertise. We work with companies looking to create, cultivate, or commercialize on their innovative culture. We can help you improve the way you develop, protect, and monetize your entire IP portfolio – from patents, trade secrets, trademarks, design patents, and domain names.