Smart Phone App Trademarks

Guide to TrademarksThe icon of a smart phone app defines a brand and an identity.  Trademark law provides protection for brands.  Trademark registration applications can be filed for the logo as well as for the name of the app.

Since you have invested time and money in developing and marketing a smart phone app, you will want assurance that consumers will easily recognize it as yours.  You hope to built up a reputation and make repeat sales, and it could be disastrous if a competitor were able to put a similar product on sale which could be confused with yours.  By using a trademark for your app, you can build up brand loyalty among customers.

Rights in a trademark are acquired by use in the mark with an app, such as through a logo or brand name.  Alternatively, it is possible to apply for a federal trademark registration before use with an intent-to-use trademark application. Use of the trademark must ultimately occur, and must continue if the rights so acquired are to be preserved.

Choosing a trademark | Proper use of a trademark | Federal trademark registration | Trade and commercial names | Trademarks in foreign countries

While it is possible to obtain software patents and smart phone app patents in the U.S., it can be extremely difficult, if not almost impossible, to obtain software patents and smart phone app patents in Europe and other countries. One cost effective way to protect software internationally is through trademark protection. It is difficult for pirates to sell illegally copied software without also using its name. The cost of obtaining trademark registrations around the world is much less expensive than obtaining patents around the world, and trademark rights are less expensive to enforce. It is much easier to prove that a trademark is being infringed than to prove that a patent or copyright is being infringed.  Although patents may be more valuable in the U.S., in countries that don’t like software patents, trademark protection is better than nothing.  A trademark will not protect against copying technical ideas or concepts, but can be used to prevent a competitor from using your name or logo.

In summary, applications to register software patents and smart phone app trademarks should be filed at least for your icon logo and app name to protect the logo and name.  Applications can also be filed for names of characters used in your app (e.g., if it is a game) as well as for how characters look.  Trademark registrations can provide cost effective international protection.