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How to protect a trademark for a software application
4 mins

How to protect a trademark for a software application

Table of Contents:

    Piracy, illegal copying, or any other kind of unauthorized use can be a brand’s greatest enemy. Developing software requires time, energy, and resources, thus, when a software is pirated, all of these investments and hard work are essentially put to waste. This means a brand’s work is not only devalued, but so are their expected revenues.

    Today, we will learn how brands can protect their software applications and enforce their exclusive rights over their work. Here’s what we will cover:

    • What is a software application?
    • Can I trademark a software application?
    • How can I protect my software application?
    • How can I enforce my exclusive rights over my software application?

    What is a software application?

    A software application is any program that is intended to perform specific functions. It can be for personal, educational, business, lifestyle, entertainment purposes, and so forth. It is also referred to as an end-user software because it is specifically designed to help an end-user in accomplishing a given task. 

    Some of the most popular and commonly used software applications are web/Internet browsers, word processing, and communication softwares. Notably, these software applications are similar in how they all contribute in increasing productivity and simplifying workflows. However, software applications can also include entertainment, games and music.

    Can I trademark a software application?

    If you wish to file a trademark registration, you can only do so for your software application’s name, logo, symbol, slogan and other identifying marks. The program itself cannot be a subject of a trademark, as a trademark is a specific type of intellectual property that only covers business marks that work to distinguish one enterprise from another.

    To recap, a trademark refers to any recognizable sign, logo, symbol, unique name or design aspect that allows consumers to identify a business. 

    Consequently, software applications are subject to copyright protection, not trademark protection, for protection as intellectual property.


    How can I protect my software application?

    Unless you only intend to protect your app’s name, logo, and such other identifying mark, what you need in order to safeguard the program itself from acts of infringement is a copyright.

    To recall, a copyright refers to the legal protection granted to creators of artistic, literary, and scientific works. It is sometimes referred to as “author’s right” because it works to protect the exclusive rights of authors over their original creations. There is no exclusive list as to what kinds of creations a copyright covers, but these range from:

    • Books and other writings
    • Musical works
    • Paintings, sculptures, and other works of art
    • Architectural works
    • Technical and creative drawings
    • Films and advertisements
    • Photographic works
    • Websites and software applications
    • Computer programs
    • Mobile applications
    • Video games

    A copyright does not prevent others from using or enjoying your application, but it does give you the right to regulate how it is copied and distributed, and to claim against those who exceed allowable use. This is referred to as fair use.

    How can I enforce my exclusive rights over my software application?

    1. Register your application.

    Technically, registration is not mandatory. The author of any copyrightable material has exclusive rights over the same from the moment of creation. Nonetheless, a copyright owner has the choice to strengthen the protection of the copyright by registering the work with the proper authority and paying the non-refundable deposit and filing fee. Once the U.S. Copyright Office receives all the requirements in proper and acceptable form, the material is considered registered. 

    2. Monitor the use of your application.

    Registration of your software application with the U.S. Copyright Office does not guarantee full protection. Regardless of registration, bad actors might find a way to use and/or reproduce your copyrighted and registered app in a way that violates intellectual property laws. In order to protect your revenue, it is crucial to keep an eye out for any violations of your software application.

    When dealing with a few infringements, tracking copyright infringement can be done manually; however, when dealing with large scale issues, this process can consume a significant amount of your time, effort, and resources when handled in-house. For those cases,  choosing a Copyright Infringement Detection Software, which automates the entire process, can be the most cost-effective solution.

    3. Enforce your right against app infringers.

    Once a case of infringement has been detected, there are different ways you can enforce your right against your offender. One way is to send a copyright infringement notice. This notifies the perpetrator that you are aware that your software application has been infringed by him, and that you are requesting him to stop infringing on your copyright.

    Another way of enforcement is to file an intellectual property lawsuit. This option is available only to copyright owners who have registered their work with the U.S. Copyright Office or any of its counterparts. In a copyright infringement case, the plaintiff can win statutory damages and attorney’s fees. But these cases can be expensive: intellectual property lawyers charge by the hour, and each hour of legal work means another few thousand dollars in costs.

    To avoid litigation, software owners should try all possible out-of-court remedies to protect their rights over their software application. This can be done by using a Copyright Infringement Protection Software like Red Points’, which not only detects infringement but also automatically sends removal requests.

    What’s next?

    Software piracy is indeed an alarming problem among software app developers. After hours, if not months, of brainstorming, programming, and developing your software application, it definitely would not be fair if someone else unjustly benefits from your creativity and hard work. As software developers, it is important that you are well aware of your exclusive rights over your work, and how you can enforce them against your infringers.

    Apart from copyright infringement detection, Red Points also offers an all-inclusive Brand Protection Software for creators like you. Using the most advanced automated tools for intellectual property protection, this program gets the problem of software piracy out of the way, so that you can focus on the more important aspects of your work–creation, programming, and development.

    Learn more about Red Points’ brand protection software or request a demo today.

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