christa-dodoo-MldQeWmF2_g-unsplashBecause there's nothing so bad that it can't be made worse by profoundly flawed human nature and no crisis can go unexploited, we submit another chapter in the growing volume of people looking to get ahead while the world plunges into panic.

Bill Donohue of Law360 brings us news that multiple people or entities have filed for a trademark on the terms "COVID" or "coronvirus". The article details two of the filings — one for a "Coronavirus Survival Guide" and another for "We Cured COVID-19" apparel and information, the latter of which manages to be both speculative and cruel at our present moment. While those and similar filing aren't the first to try and capitalize upon a trend, they certainly stand out as among the more callous and craven attempts to cash in.

The problems with the filings, setting aside the heinous nature of the attempts in and of themselves, is that they are inherently without any merit or legitimate basis by which they might actually be awarded, as COVID-19 or coronavirus isn't something that is subject to be trademarked. Both terms have been so widely used by so many people and institutions that it is ubiquitous, particularly in the midst of the planet-wide crisis we're living through, and thus not unique to any one applicant. And trademark applications are made at least notionally with an eye towards creating products that would use that mark, else the applicant would eventually lose the right to use the mark, and God help the soul that would try to sell coronavirus merch at this juncture.

These are of course secondary critiques to the original, broader complaint, which is that to look at the misery and suffering and death not only in our communities and around the world and think about how you might get a trademark on those terms to profit off of in some manner, nebulous as that idea may be, betrays a lack of the basic human decency that we will need if we're to hope to get through this together. Forget whether or not the applications have any merit; why would anyone even want a trademark on COVID-19 or coronavirus? Speaking for myself, should we make it to the other side of this challenge — and I profoundly hope we do — I could go the rest of may days without hearing either term again. It's hard to imagine what coronavirus products might actually be popular, but it's rarely wrong to bet against the shortsightedness of some portion of the human race.