Icons that identify applications are the new distinguishing signs of today. They are used to facilitate our navigation on smartphones and computers.
There can be little doubt that icons have a distinctive function. However, is it possible to protect application icons through IP rights? If yes, is registration required?
In Brazil, there are several avenues for the protection of application icons. In this post, we will briefly look at the different forms of protection available and provide some useful tips to ensure stronger IP protection for Icons related to Apps.
IP protection of Icons
Firstly, it may be possible to seek copyright protection for your Icon, given that these may be considered works of art. To do so, it is not necessary to register, but the creation must be the result of a new intellectual production. In other words, the icon must be a creation of the mind, expressed by any means or fixed on any support, tangible or intangible.
You may also to seek protection along the lines of trade dress (in other words, the set of visual and sensory elements characteristic of the digital platform that form its identity). Here, there is also no specific need for registration. However, the existence of trademarks, industrial designs or even copyright protection can strengthen such protection.
There are also mechanisms available to the fight against unfair competition as a way of protecting a distinctive sign.
Finally, the protection of the application’s icon through a trademark registration (this is the most common form) has been discussed by intellectual property bodies. In Brazil, this is done through an application to the BPTO.
WIPO has already clearly indicated that these distinctive signs may be protected as a trademark and further recommends that they receive the same treatment as this type of creation.
8 tips for ensuring greater IP protection for Icons related to Apps
So, what should you pay attention to when designing an application icon to ensure the most efficient intellectual property protection possible?
1) Show distinctive character
The mere decorative or functional character in simple and generic signs is not protected by intellectual property registration bodies.
2) Be original
Avoid the icon being simply the description of a service. It needs to distinguish itself from competitors in the same category and be truly original to the segment.
3) Use colors to your advantage
Colors strongly contribute to giving value, notoriety, distinctiveness and showing originality.
4) Innovate in source and style
Avoid using only initials, even if space for the design is limited.
5) Do a search for availability
As with other intellectual property rights, an icon, as a distinctive sign, cannot conflict with the prior rights of third parties.
6) Be aware of creation rights
Take care and analyze who owns the right to this design and new distinctive sign. It is important to make sure that the crator transfers his rights to the company that intends to use the distinctive sign, even if it is an employee.
7) Register, if possible
Distinctive signs can be a company’s main assets. They bring with them the image, fame and expectation of the public. That’s why it’s important to ensure their protection. The lack of knowledge or an intellectual property protection strategy means that few companies seek to protect or even register their icons.
8) Pay attention to design and anticipate technological change
It is important to remember that after registration, the distinctive sign cannot be significantly modified, otherwise it will no longer be protected by that registered right. So, in the event of an update, the main essence of the icon should be maintained. If necessary, consider a new application.
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