View Full Version : Questions about product name trademarking/copyright
Mar 26, 2006, 01:54 AM
Hi guys, I'm getting close to bringing out a software product that I want to get some trademark protection on (at least the name). I intend to set up an LLC soon but what's involved in trademarking a name and/or company logo? Where would I go to do such a thing (can it be done online?) and how expensive is it? Also, what's the difference between a trademark (™) and a registered name (®)? I have seen both attached to logos. Once I receive a trademark, when is it appropriate to use? Every time and place the name appears, once per document, only when it appears in advertising, or what? Thanks in advance if you have any answers.
Mar 30, 2006, 01:48 PM
you need a lawyer.
Check your local yellow pages or equivalent
Mar 30, 2006, 02:33 PM
Let us know when you release the software so that we can check it out.
Mar 30, 2006, 04:17 PM
Lots of info on that wikipedia link, gekko513 :)
Mar 30, 2006, 09:58 PM
Let us know when you release the software so that we can check it out.Thank you for the link and I will let you know. :) It's a highly-flexible audio playback app meant mostly for live applications. Multiple triggers with very low triggering delay, multiple channels of multiple output devices, and all that... And once the alpha is out, I will certainly be needing testers and feedback.
Mar 31, 2006, 01:49 AM
IIRC trademark registration in the US can be done online and costs about $300 per 'mark'. Additionally if you want to register in other countries you must also pay their fees. In the US the USPTO handles applications.
As far as I can see a trademark is only worth having if you're prepared to go to court to defend it. It depends if the amount of money you'd make from the app is enough to justify the costs of lawyers fees should you want to take someone to court. For me it wasn't so I don't have trademark protection on my applications. It also seems I'm not alone in this. Mostly the 'big players' have trademark protection - the little guys generally don't.
Remember you do have copyright protection and that is something you get for free. Again it's pretty worthless if you aren't prepared to defend it.
Generally you will probably get nastygrams (I've had one) from people saying you've infringed x,y and z if your app is even remotely like theirs, but most people know it isn't worth suing - lawyers are expensive and their hourly rates are WAY more than a mac shareware author's :rolleyes:
Oh....and IANAL and this is my own personal take on the situation.
Mar 31, 2006, 02:30 AM
OK I did some reading, it seems that you can use the trademark symbol (™) anytime you want, with a logo or phrase, and that simply by using it over time you establish a history of the trademark association for your product. If you have established a history it may be hard for someone to sue you if they have not previously established the same mark. So in a sense it is not strictly necessary to register the trademark (where you use ®), although that makes it official. And as you say, if you can't afford to pay the lawyers to defend it, it's probably not worth it anyway. I think establishing an LLC is probably worth it, however, to protect your personal assets in case of a lawsuit for whatever reason. At the last WWDC I heard Wil Shipley (Omni, Delicious Monster) give a great talk about being a shareware developer. He said you should definitely get an LLC, even if you're only producing an obscure $5 piece of shareware or even freeware.
Mar 31, 2006, 04:50 AM
From what I understand the LLC thing is a very good idea as it's pretty easy and cheap to do and in America people are rather keener on phoning the lawyers than perhaps they are anywhere else. I'm in the UK and we don't have LLC's so I'm personally legally responsible for my software - I do have professional indemnity insurance against being sued in the UK however.
I remember a podcast Wil gave where he said that maybe he was over egging it a bit when at the WWDC he said 'You will get sued'. What he should have said is 'people will threaten to sue you'. The bottom line is people will threaten you but everyone knows law suits only make lawyers rich.