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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
I have a desktop software that I'm selling and at the moment the software is gaining popularity but recently I noticed that an app was published on Apple App Store and Google Play marketplace using the exact name of my software to promote itself.
Users of the apps are now contacting me about the in-app purchased that they made in those apps and that they wanted a refund and I have to tell them that it's not our app.
- How can I report this app to Google and Apple?
- Is there any chance that they will ask the app author to change the name of the app or take the app down, since I did not copyright the software's name?
You can't copyright a product name. You can trademark it. Whether it is worth doing is another matter.
Monday, February 17, 2014
If you can show that you've been using the name for some time then effectively you already have the (benefits of a) trademark.
You would certainly have a case but both the giant, uncaring corporations have a reputation for being giant and uncaring.
Monday, February 17, 2014
If you are successful, there will always be people trying to take advantage of your trademark. This is just a fact of the software business.
I have dealt with this problem many times before using expensive trademark lawyers. Google and Apple will not tolerate blatant trademark violators if it is brought to their attention. I never had to deal with the Play store, but in other parts of google they were responsive. I imagine Apple would do the same. Ignoring trademark violations they have been notified about exposes them to legal risk. And they don't want that.
However to make them act, you usually need to show them proof that you own the trademark. They aren't that expensive to get, but it can be a lengthy process.
If your product has a descriptive name, you have no trademark protection. And you won't ever get it. i.e: Bug Tracking Software, Disk Cleaner, etc Don't even bother applying.
If your product has a completely unique name, preferably one you made up you have the highest legal protection: FogBugz, Cleanobot. You can apply for the trademark, and then start kicking out the trademark squatters as they pop up. But this is a long process and it will be a never ending game of Whak-A-Mole
You can also trademark a word that has nothing to do with what your product is about as it relates to your product. i.e. Apple Computer. You can't trademark Apple for an apple orchard but you can for computers.
Some like the trademark strategy of combining the descriptive name which is non trademarkable, with a completely trademarkable term. Resulting in a phrase that is easy to trademark and protect, yet still descriptive.
FogCreek - Bug Tracking Software
FogCreek - Project Management Software
I hope that helps
As a throwaway example, Google is more than happy to take your money if you use a competitor's name as a keyword in your PPC campaign,
Copyright infringement is one of those things they cheerfully ignore until the actual lawsuit. Even then they tend to accept a single payout in exchange for continuing the practice in a legal gray area (created by their own lawyers)
So yeah, they may leap to your defense, with enthusiasm and vigor.
Or may not.
Worth a try I guess?
Regarding it being a long and difficult process to get a trademark, I had a trademark lawyer as a client many years back and his biggest concern was he didn't want clients knowing how easy the process was...
His 2nd biggest concern was he didn't want them knowing how relatively useless a TM is for most companies that already have an established use of the term or name.
"I applied for and got a trademark" and "I've been publicly trading under this name for the last 5 or 6 years, and I have proof of that" are pretty much the same thing to a judge.
In a direct showdown between the noob with the new trademark and the businessman who's been using that name for some time? I wouldn't bet my own money on the outcome, but if I had it it wouldn't be on the noob.
Because the *value* of a trademark is indeed your previous trading, building up a reputation for quality or whatever. As such the party being harmed would be the businessman with the established name, not the trademark-squatting noob.
Judges are human too, and "law" tends to mean "Which lawyer was most convincing?"
Also remember that I am not a lawyer and there's a difference between a trademark and the copyright. Don't confuse the two.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
>As a throwaway example, Google is more than happy to take your money if you use a competitor's name as a keyword in your PPC campaign
Yes. But they won't let you use it in the ad text (for well known trademarks such as Mac, anyway).
Monday, February 24, 2014
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