One Bad App Spoils the Bunch: Brand Protection in the App Era

02/28/2011

Alan has a meeting with a potential client in a neighboring city this morning. He uses a GPS app on his cell phone to guide him to his destination. While commuting to the office by train, Bianca uses apps to read her favorite newspaper. Meanwhile, Carl plays a word puzzle on his e-book reader as he travels by airplane. Diane downloaded an app that, through her cell phone camera lens, translates languages so that during her upcoming trip to Brazil she can translate Portuguese signs and menus into English by simply pointing her phone at them.

Many reading this article will recall experiencing the new issues and questions that arose in the late 1990s and early 2000s when corporate websites dramatically increased in popularity. To many lawyers, that era was reminiscent of the Wild West as we struggled to apply existing laws to a new form of communication and commerce.

The Internet and methods of communication have undergone drastic change since then. Certainly, social networking has commanded the attention of lawyers in multiple practice areas. Also growing at remarkable speed and capturing the attention of consumers, businesses, and marketers - but of lawyers significantly less so thus far - are mobile applications.

It is unquestionable that the mobile apps market will have an increasingly significant impact on the global marketplace. Legal professionals might want to familiarize themselves with the basics of this emerging market.

This article will provide some background on what apps are, as well as trademark and copyright issues they raise and methods of addressing those issues.

Excerpted from the Texas Bar Journal, Vol. 74, No. 3, March 2011. To read the full article, click on the PDF linked below.

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