Last week Climate Activist, Greta Thunberg, announced that she (via her foundation) has applied to register her name, Fridays For Future and Skolstrejk för klimatet (School Strike for the Climate) as trade marks.
The applications were filed to 'protect the movement and its activities'. In particular, they were filed to help prevent people from impersonating Greta and using either her name, or Fridays For Future, for commercial purposes without her consent.
Whilst the verified accounts function of social media giants Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat go some way in protecting public figures from impersonators, by marking appropriate accounts as authentic to a particular public figure, celebrity or global brand, it's not a perfect system. Trade mark registrations will add another weapon to the arsenal in the battle to combat those seeking to free-ride on the fame of the movement.
Within Greta's statement she states "I assure you, I and the other school strikers have absolutely no interests in trademarks". In light of the recent CJEU decision in SkyKick, if this statement is interpreted as indicating that there is no intention to use the marks, then the marks could be invalid if they were filed with the purpose of preventing third party use.
However, given the scope of the applications (covering services such as fund-raising and education in relation to the environment, and providing scientific information in the field of climate change), it's foreseeable that they will be used by the foundation for commercial (albeit not-for profit) purposes.
Given the notoriety of the movement, these trade marks may prove useful tools in helping the foundation achieve its aims, not only by preventing third parties using the marks in ways which may erode public trust, but also by providing licensing opportunities.
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