California Intellectual Property Blog


Hard Candy Cosmetics Abandons its Trademark for #MeToo

Los Angeles – Popular makeup brand Hard Candy Cosmetics filed a trademark application for #MeToo in October 2017 which created great controversy. Hard Candy was looking to brand a line of fragrances and cosmetics with the hashtag #MeToo. #MeToo has been at the core of a social movement to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment.

Social activist Tarana Burke is said to have created the phrase in 2007, and it was then popularized by actress Alyssa Milano in 2017 when she encouraged women to tweet #MeToo to demonstrate the scale of the social issue.

Hard Candy Cosmetics has a history of supporting non-profit organizations, and along those lines Hard Candy claims that it filed for the trademark to give back to women and bring greater awareness to the social movement. Hard Candy had planned to donate 100 percent of profits received from the line of goods. However, many survivors of sexual harassment and abuse have taken offense to this trademark attempt because, “It [is] a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible,” explained Tarana Burke.

Back in October 2017, when the hashtag went viral, many were afraid that businesses would attempt to capitalize on the phenomenon. Without a doubt, a jewelry company by the name of Adornia released a “Me Too” necklace and stated that they would donate ten percent of proceeds to Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN). Adornia received such strong backlash that they quickly changed the donation percentage to 100 percent.

There are two other applicants for the #MeToo trademark. One company is looking to use it for legal consultation services, and the other for rubber bracelets like the LiveStrong Lance Armstrong bracelets.

As of January 18, 2018, Hard Candy withdrew its application for the controversial trademark after receiving a ton of push back on social media that this was an inappropriate use of the hashtag. Despite the decision to not use the hashtag in their branding, Hard Candy Cosmetics says that it is still planning to strongly support the cause to empower and respect the dignity of women.


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