The #MeToo movement has grown from its humble beginnings into a powerful movement that encompasses “empowerment through empathy” to awareness to holding perpetrators responsible. This simple phrase has helped millions of women and men across the world and will continue to fuel the change our society needs.
And as with any social movement, some are trying to trivialize it into a marketing scheme—which is, unfortunately, not shocking. On January 17, news broke that the makeup company Hard Candy filed an application to trademark “Me Too.” The beauty brand abandoned the application based on the PR nightmare it found itself in.
Now why would Hard Candy want to trademark the phrase? A trademark is a source identifier, a way for customers to know where the products come from. That means that trademark owners are granted the exclusive right to the mark in commerce. Thus, if Hard Candy did have a valid trademark of the phrase, they could stop other makeup companies from using the phrase on their beauty products.
So, naturally the public did what it did best and took to Twitter to condemn Hard Candy for trying to monetize a movement. Beyond the insensitive nature of the whole ordeal, granting one company the exclusive right to use a phrase about awareness is simply illogical. Allowing Hard Candy trademark protection would halt the momentum of the movement (i.e. the exact opposite of what it is all about).
The CEO of the company, Jerome Falic, released a statement emphasizing the brand’s commitment to the cause and pointing out its charitable intentions behind the application. Hard Candy is not the first or last company to try to capitalize on a social movement, but at least we can rest assured that other companies who try the same move will also take a major “L”.
All in all, Hard Candy’s application did not end with a source identifier, but identified a faux pas instead.