Yes! You can trademark an iPhone application or Android application so long as the trademark is available for registration. The United States Patent and Trademark Office registers trademarks on a first come, first served basis, and once a trademark is registered subsequent applicants for the same (or even a similar )trademark may be refused at the discretion of the USPTO.
Mobile apps are currently a hot topic, which is why securing the earliest possible filing date is especially important for mobile application developers. About 1000 trademark applications are filed every day with the USPTO including many for software related products.
How Does a Trademark Protect a Mobile Application?
Trademarking a mobile application can help to protect the name, logo, icons, and slogans that have been created for the mobile application. One key benefit of trademark registration is that a public listing of your trademark will be created in the USPTO’s online trademark database. A routine trademark search will show that you own the trademark (or have applied for it, if the application is still pending), thus deterring many competitors from attempting to register or use your trademark. The value of this particular benefit alone makes the filing fees worth it. In general, app developers tend to be quite savvy, and most do trademark searches, domain name searches, and other branding due diligence before deciding on a particular trademark.
Other benefits to federal trademark registration
- You will have the exclusive right to use the trademark in the U.S. for the mobile apps
- Most social media websites will take down pages infringing on your trademark
- You are granted the right to enforce your trademark in federal court if necessary
- You may be able to recover money damages if your trademark is infringed upon.
- Federal trademark registration gives you the right to use the “®” symbol.
Patent and Copyright Protection for Mobile Applications
Mobile applications may also be protected by copyright registration. Copyrighting is another type of intellectual property protection that’s designed to protect original works of authorship, which include mobile app source code and any original artistic elements of the application. Copyright registration is much quicker and cheaper than trademark registration, since there is no prosecution of the application (it’s more of a filing process). We’ll be writing a full article on this topic soon.
Patent registration may be an option for those interested in protecting the functionality of the app. Patenting is a much more complicated process and doesn’t always align well with the budget and timeline of the app development process, however patents can be incredibly valuable in the right scenario. We’ll be writing a full article on this topic as well in the coming weeks.