Software and Application Trademarks

Computer software trademarkWith the number of variations in software (downloadable software, application software, and non-downloadable cloud-based software) its more important than ever to protect your name. For example, if you plan on developing downloadable software for tax preparation, however, someone has already created a phone app using a similar name related to providing tax information, your use could amount to trademark infringement. Not only would a phone app trademark registration prevent this scenario, but it would also prevent others from using a confusingly similar name on similar types of software. It has never been more crucial to trademark software than it is today.

What International Class Is My Software?

The US Trademark Office categorizes all goods and services into International Classes (IC), for example, restaurant and hotels are IC 43, distilled spirits are IC 33, and electronics are IC 9. Phone app trademarks are a bit different. A phone app trademark can either fall under electronics in IC 9 or computer, scientific, or legal services in IC 42. The distinction is often solved by answering whether your software is downloadable or non-downloadable. Downloadable software will fall under iC 9 and non-downloadable software will fall under IC 42. If you offer both, then file under both classes.

  • IC 9 = Downloadable Software (or phone apps)
  • IC 41 = Online games
  • IC 42 = Non-downloadable Software

Should I Trademark Phone App Logos?

Absolutely. An application logo, often found in software application stores as a square image, is how consumers come to recognize your downloadable application. Because it serves as a source identifier it is serving as a trademark. If the application logo is more than just the name of the software, then you’ll most likely want to file two separate trademarks (one for the name itself, and one for the application logo).  Consequently, you will want to trademark app logos that you use in relation to the phone app.

  • Many consumers come to recognize the square phone app image, so obtain the trademark for it.

I’m Not Using the Trademark with My Phone App Yet

The Trademark Office provides an excellent opportunity for future users of a mark by allowing them to secure the rights to their name prior to actual use. Software designers that intend to use a trademark in the future may file an intent to use trademark to secure those rights as of the day of filing.

In order to rightfully file an intent to use application you need to have a “bona fide intention…to use” the mark in commerce. After you obtain registration you can claim the filing date as your date of first use even though you didn’t use the mark until after you filed. That’s the key benefit of an intent to use application; you reserve the name. No need to wait. If you plan on using a name, secure the rights to that name today.

  • It’s fine, file an intent to use application for phone app

Benefits of a Phone App Trademark?

Acquiring the rights to your phone app via trademark registration can help you prevent others from stealing your name or image, it can save you money by ensuring you own the rights to your name (and not having to change your name later), and it represents a valuable asset (that you can later sell).

  • Protects your right to use your name
  • Prevents others from taking your name
  • Represents a valuable asset