Hashtags got their start on Twitter over a decade ago as a way of making it easier for people to find, follow, and contribute to a conversation, but considering their influence, questions on whether they can be trademarked are prevalent. If you do not know, hashtags serve 3 major purposes. (1) Hashtags help you get found by your target audience; (2) improve your clickthrough rates; and (3) are a great tool for research. As seen with #blacklivesmatter. With its origins in one heartfelt Facebook post, following the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, this hashtag has spawned a civil rights movement that has changed the face of the United States. There are now more than 26 Black Lives Matter chapters across the US. More than any civil rights movement in history, the Black Lives Matter movement has been brought together from across the world by the uniting power of social media. #aslicebucketchallenge Who doesn’t remember the summer of 2014, when Facebook newsfeeds everywhere were filled with people having ice and water poured over their heads? It was the first of the viral charity challenge hashtags, raising money and awareness for the ALS Association, and it set a precedent that many have tried to match in the years since. Those few examples prove that there’s probably no easier way to tell a digital narrative, and have it grow than the ability to use the hashtag. All sorts of movements have since taken up the hashtag and used it to great effect, ranging from the 2010 Tea Party movement of conservative populists, who have rocked American politics to activists. So now the questions is can you trademark these powerful marks? In the United States, a hashtag can be trademarked if it serves a source-identifying function for the trademark owner’s goods or services. There are, however, some shortcomings and concerns that companies should be aware of. Importantly, hashtags are inherently meant to be used by as many people as possible to develop online conversations. Given the exclusive nature of trademark ownership, hashtags can present a challenge to mark owners in policing uses of their hashtag trademarks. Relatedly, brand owners may open themselves up to exposure or even liability if their hashtag trademarks are used improperly or in a negative or controversial context by consumers. Ultimately, brand owners should weigh the benefits of joining the Internet “conversation” via the use of hashtag trademarks against the potential issues that can arise due to difficulties in policing how their hashtags are being used.