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Trademark protection of mobile apps – Lexology

Trademark protection of mobile apps – Lexology

Introduction

It is widely accepted that smartphones, tablets and smartwatches are an indispensable part of people’s daily lives. However, one of the main reasons that smartphones are so much a part of daily life is the use of mobile apps. In fact, almost all daily activities can be performed using mobile apps.

Mobile apps are software designed to work on a mobile operating system on mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and smartwatches and are usually downloaded from specific app stores for different platforms. However, some mobile apps may also be pre-installed by manufacturers.(1)

According to statistics, 178.1 billion mobile apps were downloaded by consumers in 2017 and this number will reach 258.2 billion in 2022.(2)

Notably, Turkey’s trademark classification system does not cover the term ‘mobile applications’ specifically. However, software and computer programs fall within the scope of Class 9 of the classification system.(3) This article examines how best to protect mobile apps under the Trademark Law.

Classification system

As mobile apps are classified as software or programs, protection under Class 9 of the Turkish classification system may be insufficient for some apps. For example, the registration of the Microsoft Word mobile app in Class 9 is sufficient for trademark protection,(4) but the registration of the IsCep banking app in Class 9 will not provide full protection.(5)

The IsCep app concerns banking transactions and the services provided are classified as banking services under Class 36 of the classification system.(6) As a result, in order to obtain proper trademark protection for the IsCep trademark, it must be protected under Classes 36 and 9.

In addition, in order to ensure proper trademark protection, the TV+ mobile app(7) should be registered in Class 38 of the classification system, as the app allows users to watch TV channels via smartphone and tablet.(8)

Further, registration of the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds mobile app(9) in Class 9 will be sufficient to provide trademark protection. However, registration in Class 41 is also advisable, as the mobile app connects to a server and the game can be played online.(10)

The main purpose of the abovementioned mobile apps (and others) is to make life easier by providing certain services through software. In other words, these mobile apps are a tool for providing or accessing related services.

Therefore, registration of these services in the related classes is the wiser choice compared with registering them only in Class 9.

In addition, some mobile apps may be pre-installed by manufacturers, such as apps that allow additional apps to be downloaded.(11) In order to fully protect such apps, they should be registered in Classes 35(12) and 9(13).

This type of mobile app provides an online marketplace for mobile app manufacturers and users, where apps can be bought and sold. As a result, trademark applications for mobile apps should be filed in the class relating to the service provided and Class 9 to obtain proper trademark protection.

Endnotes

(1) “What Is a Mobile Application?“.

(2) “Number of mobile app downloads worldwide in 2017, 2018 and 2022 (in billions)“.

(3) Turkish Classification System 2017 – 09.03: “Magnetic, optic data carriers and computer programs and software recorded thereto electronic publications downloadable via computer networks and recordable in magnetic and optic media; magnetic/optical reader cards, exposed cinema films, TV series and music videos recorded in magnetic, optical and electronic media”.

(4) An app for reviewing, updating and creating documents.

(5) An app for carrying out banking transactions.

(6) Turkish Classification System 2017 – 36.02: “Financial and monetary services”, supra note 3.

(7) A digital TV platform.

(8) Turkish Classification System 2017 – 38.01: “Radio and television broadcasting services”, supra note 3.

(9) A multiplayer video game.

(10) Turkish Classification System 2017 – 41.04: “Publication and editing of printed matter, including magazines, books, newspapers and delivery of the same to readers (including the provision of such services via global communication networks)”, supra note 3.

(11) For instance, Google Play for Android devices, Apple’s App Store for iPad and iPhone and Amazon AppStore for Amazon Fire devices.

(12) Turkish Classification System 2017 – 35.01: “Services related to advertising, marketing and public relations, organization of exhibitions and fairs for commercial and advertisement purposes, design services for advertisement purposes; provision of online marketplaces (website) for buyers and sellers”, supra note 3.

(13) According to the characteristics of these mobile apps, additional classes would be beneficial.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.

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