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iPhone apps and trademarks – part III

Posted by ipelton on: August 3rd, 2010

New York Times reports on a company that makes extra large coasters – featuring iPhone app logos – for your coffee table (http://www.iphoneappscoasters.com/).

As I previously blogged about twice, iPhone apps are a hot area for branding and design, as well as trademarks. Customers are expecting the companies and products they love to have a iPhone app. And the land of iPhone apps and mobile apps in general is becoming a whole new platform for creativity and development — in other words, an intellectual property hotbed full of potential trademarks, copyrights, and patents!  We have filed trademarks for several clients regarding their iPhone app brands – and we own a pending application ourselves for our Apptorney app.

As the power of the iPhone brand continues to expand and grow, Apple has filed to register several of its icons as trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Apple has recently taken one step further, and filed for trademark registration of the main button on the iPhone/iPad:

Does this button help differentiate Apple’s devices from competitors? Is it more than functional? The USPTO will also have to decide these issues regarding  the phone design itself, also the subject of a several pending trademark applications (here and here and here):

I wonder if the lawyers at Apple knew about the iPhone Coasters website?  And if the site had a license from Apple?

I suspect they did not have a license and I would not be surprised if the attention from the NY Times results in a brief boost in sales followed by a stern cease and desist letter from counsel for Apple!

Update: See here for a recent blog post by Emily Barton of Lewis & Roca “Application War – Lawsuits Over iPhone Applications On the Rise” discussing recent iPhone app lawsuits.

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