I've been using a location hashtag so I can be part of a local conversation. I was recently told by someone that I have to stop using the hashtag because "they created it and they own it."

I laughed and laughed, then I continued to use the hashtag in almost everything I post on Instagram.

No, you cannot legally own a hashtag. Hashtags are not tangible. They're not even intellectual property. Hashtags are a means of grouping posts together and making it easier to find things in a search.

You can register a trademark for a hashtag, but you have to prove to the United States Patent and Trademark Office it's a brand hashtag to promote your business. It's the same standard of trademark law for branded items.

Trademarking a hashtag will not prevent people from using it, and it won't give you legal recourse if someone uses it in a way that you disagree with.

A hashtag is something anybody in the world can use so their posts will be included in that conversation.

Hashtags are keywords, nothing more.

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Marcie Wolf

Marcie Wolf, owner of Abuzz Creative, has almost 25 years of experience in website design, search engine optimization, e-commerce, and local SEO.

Guest Blogger, Abuzz Creative
Social Tip: Can You Actually “Own” a Hashtag?