Here’s Why a Trademark Search is Important Before You Release Your App

Koushik Dutta is doing some amazing stuff with Chromecast.  In case you didn’t know, Koush released his MyCast . . . er, AllCast . . . er, AirCast . . . er . . . some app for Android that allows you to play Gallery media, Drive media, and Dropbox media on your Chromecast device.

The app is sweet. The trouble is that Koush is running in to trademark issues with each incarnation of the Android app.

MyCast, as Koush discovered, is a registered trademark belonging to RawVoice, Inc.

Koush MyCast

 

The trademark covers “computer software for streaming and/or aggregating content to another computer, mobile phone or pda that may be downloaded from a global computer network.” 

So long MyCast. And hello AllCast.

Wait . . . not quite.

As Koush quickly discovered, ALLCAST is a trademark belonging to Viewphone.com LLC. The ALLCAST trademark is very specific: 

Telecommunications and broadcast communication services, namely, transmission and streaming of audio, visual and audio-visual content via computer networks, communication networks and the global information network; providing online chat rooms and bulletin boards for social networking, and forums for communication among users on topics of general interest; peer-to-peer photo sharing services, namely, electronic transmission of digital photo files among internet users; electronic transmission of digital media for others, namely, pre-recorded digital sound, video and data recordings featuring music, text, video, games, comedy, drama, action, adventure or animation via global and local computer networks; telecommunication services provided via prepaid telephone calling cards; telecommunication services, namely, providing advanced calling features, namely, changing one’s caller ID, recording calls, changing the sound of one’s voice and appearance over the phone; electronic mail and messaging services; transmission of personalized greeting cards to others via electronic mail; transmission of personalized greetings via computer networks, communication networks and the global information network. 

Bye, bye AllCast.

Koush renamed and released an updated app, and called it AirCast.

Koush AirCast

AirCast featured the same functions as its predecessor, but added some minor functionality in the ways you could share videos. Fine.

That was, until this:

Koush AirCast2

Of course, the actual trademark, as Koush notes, is AIRCAST MOBILE, and not AirCast. There are other AIRCAST trademarks held by other companies for non-electronic-related purposes.

The squabble over the “Aircast Mobile” trademark and the “Aircast” name is small. But, as every lawyer knows, the ones who end up winning these cases are the lawyers. The problem Koush has, which probably isn’t too difficult to overcome (and correct me if I’m wrong), is showing that his intended app/trademark is sufficiently different from the other already-granted marks. In this case, I think he has a good argument to approve his app. At least facially. Obviously the end result would be for the USPTO to determine.

Koush’s case does show us one thing though: check your trademarks.

Now, I’m not advocating a full-on assault to search and register a trademark prior to an app’s release, but you’d better check your sources. Trademarks (and copyrights) are serious business, with serious penalties. Not to mention headaches with name changes and brand recognition.

Whether you decide to register the mark is up to you, but at least you’ll know your possibilities.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.