Right before the end of 2014, the soft drinks company Coca-Cola filed applications for two new trademarks at the US Patent and Trademark Office that consist of hashtags: #cokecanpics and #smilewithacoke. Hashtags became very popular because of the social network Twitter. Simply consisting of words or short expressions, they allow to easily search published messages about a certain topic.
This action may seem misplaced in a time and age when Twitter is being outperformed by other social networks and no other major company is doing anything similar. At the same time, on a different field of work, The Wall Street Journal has considered the protection of Intellectual Property rights concerning social media content, one of the top 3 legal issues for 2015. This is the path that Coca-Cola is chosing to promote and protect their brand by trying to register hashtags as trademarks.
So if the USTPO grants these applications, Coca-Cola may become the pioneer of a worldwide trend. And it is expected that other companies will follow suit on this action soon.