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Can you trademark ‘covfefe’? These people and companies are trying

This screen grab shows a tweet from President Donald Trump which has social media trying to find a meaning in the mysterious term “covfefe.” Trump tweeted just after midnight Eastern time on Wednesday, May 31, 2017: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” The tweet immediately went viral and became one of the president’s more popular posts before it was taken down after nearly six hours online. Trump poked fun at the typo, tweeting, “Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!” (AP Photo)
Associated Press
President Trump tweeted just after midnight Eastern time on Wednesday, May 31: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” It was taken down about six hours later.

It’s the unintelligible word that inspired a multitude of memes, Twitter debates, and conspiracy theories. Now “covfefe” is also the subject of several trademark applications.

Ever since President Trump ended his tweet with that word — er, combination of letters? — last month, the meaning and origin of covfefe have remained unclear. But according to the US Patent and Trademark Office database, a handful of US companies and individuals are seeking to use the term for business purposes.

As of Monday, the patent office had received nine trademark applications for “covfefe” for products ranging from T-shirts in Florida, to coffee in Virginia and beer in California.

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Trademarks grant holders the exclusive right to use a label to brand goods and services.

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So who really has the right to call “covfefe” his or her own?

“The question really that is interesting is who is going to get the right to it first, and whether Trump has any trademark rights at all,” said Hannah T. Joseph, an attorney who practices intellectual property law.

“If Trump or his campaign was using ‘covfefe’ in conjunction with any products or services, they’d arguably have some rights to the word,” Joseph said. “But assuming that’s not the case, it’s open season for everybody else.”

Once the US PTO receives an application and determines that it meets the minimum requirements for filing, an examining attorney looks at the application before either approving or denying it. It’s a process that can take months, according to the US PTO.

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Of course, by that time, Trump will most certainly be on to his next Twitter tirade. So at least one local business is capturing the covfefe craze now.

A Northborough coffee shop, Lalajava, has been brewing and shipping “covfefe” coffee since last week, according to MassLive.com.

Lalajava has not yet sought to trademark its “covfefe” coffee, according to PTO records, and no applications have been filed for the term in Massachusetts.

Claire Parker can be reached at claire.parker@globe.com. Reach her on Twitter @ClaireParkerDC.