IP Lasso was recently featured in the World Trademark Review’s February/March 2014 edition. Below is an excerpt from: “Technology watch: mobile apps explode, imitators follow”.
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Since the opening of Apple’s App Store, the number of apps downloaded has soared from zero in June 2008 to 64 billion in 2012 alone. According to a Gartner study, consumers now spend more time on mobile apps than they do browsing the Web. Yet major brand owners still expend most of their resources protecting their brands against piracy in the online world. It is vitally important to assess the brand risk that apps can pose.
For many consumers, apps have become the first stop to find more information about a product. Rogue developers know this and create unlicensed infringing apps, hoping to attract downloads.
Consider the following forum post discussing IP Lasso’s removal of an infringing app. The app removed was a ‘countdown’ app that counted down the number of days until the launch of a video game title. Not only was the content of the app incorrect, but it spammed users with advertisements, contained a client’s trademark in the app title, and featured a large amount of copyrighted imagery.
The developer noted on the forum: “I got a takedown notice for my app as well – it was a countdown for the upcoming [game]. Definitely a bummer because it was a pretty decent source of income. I have gotten these before and I don’t bother disputing them.”
Trademark owners need to realise what is at stake with mobile apps. Lax monitoring on the part of the app stores, general consumer trust of apps and the explosion of the app economy since 2008 have combined to make apps a major threat to brands. It is incredibly easy for unlicensed developers to make significant illegal revenue by piggybacking on a brand’s success, and it is impossible to stop those developers from selling consumers’ private information. The only recourse is to identify these infringing apps as they appear and remove them before they can cause too much damage.