Yes. There are two venues of protection for a hashtag or tweet.
As trademark or service mark which includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.
In that regard for a tweet or hashtag to be trademarked it needs to identify or distinguish a person’s or business’s goods or services from others. Section 45 of the Act defines a “trademark” as “any word, symbol, or device, or combination thereof—(1) used by a person . . . to identify and distinguish his or her goods . . . from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods, even if that source is unknown. 15 U.S.C. § 1127.
A recent example of an appeal of a refusal to register the mark #covfefe for clothing. The Trademark and Trial and Appeal Board ruled that the term fails to function as a trademark for the identified goods. “The Board found that the word “covfefe” has been widely used in public dialogue and on merchandise “in a non-source identifying manner, and it does not identify Applicant as the sole source of clothing identified by that term.”
For example, we helped secure trademark registration for the tweet “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when you could just be quiet? For T-shirts because the tweet was not only used for artistic purposes, printed in front or back of the T-shirts, but also on the labels and containers where the T-shirts were shipped to customers.
The second form of protection is copyright.
Copyright protection exist in “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”
However, a tweet or hashtag must contain a minimum level of creativity in order to be protectable under the Copyright. In addition a minimum amount of original expression must exist before copyright protection may attach to a work, thus Words and short phrases such as names, titles, mere list of ingredients or contents, and slogans do not receive copyright protection.
Starting on August 17, 2020 the US Copyright Office implemented a new Group Registration for Short Online Literary Works.
Under this option, you could register up to 50 short online literary works with the same application.
What are “short online literary works”?
A short online literary work contains between 50 and 17,500 words and is first published as part of a website or online platform, including online newspapers, social media websites, and social networking platforms.
Examples of short online literary works include poems, short stories, articles, essays, columns, blog entries, and social media posts.
I have helped countless business navigate the intricacies of trademark and copyright law to secure for their tweets or hashtags. I’d like to help you too, also by protecting your rights to trademarks, copyrights, and other intellectual property rights in the US and overseas.