“There’s an app for that.” If you have ever used this phrase, you should think twice about using it again. Apple, known for its Mac and iPhone products, has applied for and received a trademark on the phrase in the United States. From now on, whenever you hear that saying applied to smartphone applications and other electronic devices, you will be hearing a company line—one that belongs exclusively to Apple.
The phrase has been used repeatedly in Apple’s advertising both in the US and in the UK, referring to the wide range of applications available for the iPhone. Indeed, you can run almost every aspect of your life, private or business, from your phone, thanks to the many applications being developed every day. While Apple is not the only phone maker offering this high level of functionality, they were and still are the leaders of the movement.
The trademark paperwork was filed last December and samples of the mark were provided in August. Although this seems like a long period of time, it is actually a short interval for trademark actions. The phrase was not trademarked in the UK, but it most likely will be respected in British courts. This means that Apple now has almost exclusive say over how and when the phrase is used.
An interesting side note to this story is the fact that Apple did not limit the use of the trademark to smartphones, but rather to “handheld mobile digital electronic devices and other consumer electronics (emphasis added).” This leads many to wonder exactly what type of consumer electronics Apple is planning for the future, and what type of apps will be created for them. Will we be seeing smart stereos with a range of apps? Smart DVD players? The options seem endless, especially when you consider that the iPhone is only a few years old despite its immense cultural impact.
Apple owes a great part of their success to good branding. There are few electronics companies with such a huge global presence, so it makes sense to protect this presence with any legal means necessary.
Trademarks may seem unimportant, but they can be just as big a part of a brand as any other aspect. If you have a phrase, logo design, or other part of your brand that defines you, it’s important to get the most legal protection you can. Not only does this protect you from having other people use your brand for their own profit, it legally protects you. If one of your competitors tries to trademark an image or phrase that you are using but have not registered, you may be legally stopped from using it. This would put you back to the proverbial drawing board and force you to completely rebuild your company image.
Is your brand in need of legal protection? If you are unsure, talk to a logo designer or branding consultant today. Not having adequately legal protection places all that you have worked so hard for at risk.