Protect your name
(Read web version.)
This post explains why and how I trademarked some mobile app names. I followed the process in the UK and, you may wish to note, this will vary in other regions. The post does not represent advice and I’m certainly not an expert on this topic.
I have trademarked various names, including Scarper (Switch up gravity game), Nip To (Find nearby toilets and other public amenities) and Aim For (Personal productivity).
Choosing a name
The name and icon are the most recognisable aspects of a mobile app. They represent key parts of your app’s brand identity and help facilitate discoverability for potential users, to help drive user growth.
Previous posts covered the criteria and process for choosing great app names. Also, 4 Icon design tips may be of interest.
In the UK it is possible to protect the use of text, images and/or sounds by applying to formally register them as trademarks. The use of the ® symbol, often seen in a small font next to a name, indicates a registered trademark. The holder of such a trademark has greater legal rights to use the name/image/sound for the registered classes than others. However, they would still need to be prepared to legally defend their position against those using the trademark without permission.
The steps to register trademarks are:
Check to see if the trademark you intend to apply for meets the registration criteria, e.g. not mis-leading, offensive or common. Also, undertake a search to help ensure no other party has registered the trademark you have in mind or something closely related.
Apply to register a trademark by completing the on-line application. You will be asked to specify what you are seeking to trademark (text, images and/or sounds) and an associated usage class. There are 45 classes to choose from, each with a broad heading and list of more specific goods or service descriptors. At the time of writing, the on-line application cost £170 (for one class) plus £50 for each additional class. For my mobile app game Scarper I selected Class 9 which includes Computer Games.
Once your trademark application has been submitted there follows a period of around a month during which your application goes through a period of “Examination” by the IPO (Intellectual Property Office). The IPO will alert you to potential issues. I wanted to trademark This Way, but someone had previously registered Thisway (without a space). I withdrew my application.
The trademark is entered into the IPO’s online trademarks journal for a period of around 3 months. During this time, anyone can raise objections which the IPO consider, e.g. too similar to another registered trademark in the same class.
Award of a registered trademark which gets added to the publicly searchable database. The registration remains live for 10 years. Click the link to view the details held in relation to my Scarper trademark registration.
Apply to register a UK trademark by UK Government
This post explained the process I went through to register trademarks for some of my apps. Next Sunday’s post will share ideas on how to stay creative.
Until next Sunday, think how good it would feel to develop and register your own trademark. It felt pretty special for me.