It is widely accepted that smart phones and lately tablets and of course smart watches are an indispensable part of our lives. But one of the main reasons why smart phones are so much a part of our lives is mobile applications. As a matter of fact, almost all of the daily activities can be performed from these mobile applications. As it is known, mobile applications are software designed to work on a mobile operating system on mobile devices such as smart phones, tablet computers and smart watches and are usually downloaded from specific application stores for the platforms. However, some mobile applications may also be pre-installed by manufacturers.1
According to statistics2, 178.1 billion mobile applications were downloaded by consumers in 2017 and this number will reach 258.2 billion in 2022.
After this introduction, the subject of the paper is about how to protect the mobile applications that will reach and exceed 200 billion in terms of Trademark Law. First of all, it should be noted that the Turkish Classification System does not cover the term of 'mobile applications' specifically. However, it should be highlighted that software and programs are classified in the class 093 in the Turkish Classification System. However, since the mobile application in question is called software or program, the protection in class 09 will not be sufficient for some applications. For instance, the registration of Microsoft Word4 mobile application in class 09 will be sufficient for the trademark protection, while the registration of İşCep5 application in class 09 will not be sufficient for the full protection. As a matter of fact, İşCep application is a mobile application related to banking transactions and the service provided by the application is banking service and these services are classified in class 366 in the Turkish Classification System. As a result, in order to obtain proper trademark protection for İşCep trademark, the classes that need to be chosen are, firstly, class 36 and then class 09.
To give an example from a different sector, the class that should be registered in order to benefit from proper trademark protection of TV+7 mobile application is class 388 in the Turkish Classification System. As a matter of fact, said mobile application is a platform that offers watching TV channels via smart phone and tablet. Again, to give an example from a different sector, registration of Player Unknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG)9 mobile application will be enough in class 09. However, considering that the game is played over the internet, registration in class 4110 is necessary for the proper protection. Hence, the mobile application connects to a server over the internet and enables the game to be played by the players. The main purpose of the above mentioned mobile applications İşCep, TV+ and other mobile applications which make our lives easier is to provide a certain service through the software. In other words, these mobile applications are only the tool for providing or getting related services. Therefore, registration of these services in the related classes would be wiser choice compare to obtain a registration in class 09 only. In addition, as mentioned above, some mobile applications may be pre-installed by manufacturers. The best example of these applications is mobile applications which allow downloading of numerous mobile applications.11 In order to fully protect these mobile applications, these shall be registered in class 3512 as well as in class 09.13 As a matter of fact, these mobile applications are the online market places for mobile application manufacturers where they bring their applications together with the buyers and in the same way the buyers can also buy mobile applications through these pre-installed mobile applications. As a result, the trademark applications of mobile applications shall be filed in the class which is related to provided service as well as class 09 for obtaining proper trademark protection.
1 '' What Is a Mobile Application?'' https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-mobile-application-2373354
2 ''Number of mobile app downloads worldwide in 2017, 2018 and 2022 (in billions)'' https://www.statista.com/statistics/271644/worldwide-free-and-paid-mobile-app-store-downloads/
3 Turkish Classification System 2017 - 09.03: ''Magnetic, optic data carriers and computer programs and software recorded thereto electronic publications downloadable via computer networks and recordable in magnetic and optic media; magnetic/optical reader cards, exposed cinema films, TV series and music videos recorded in magnetic, optical and electronic media.'' https://www.turkpatent.gov.tr/TURKPATENT/commonContent/MClassification/
4 An application for reviewing, updating, and creating documents.
5 An application for carrying out all banking transactions.
6 Turkish Classification System 2017 - 36.02: ''Financial and monetary services.'', supra note 3.
7 A digital TV platform.
8 Turkish Classification System 2017 - 38.01: ''Radio and television broadcasting services.'', supra note 3.
9 A multiplayer video game.
10 Turkish Classification System 2017 - 41.04: ''Publication and editing of printed matter, including magazines, books, newspapers and delivery of the same to readers (including provision of such services via global communication networks).'', supra note 3.
11 For instance, Google Play for Android devices, Apple's App Store for iPad and iPhone, Amazon AppStore for Amazon Fire devices.
12 Turkish Classification System 2017 - 35.01: ''Services related to advertisement, marketing and public relations, organization of exhibitions and fairs for commercial and advertisement purposes, design services for advertisement purposes; provision of online marketplaces (website) for buyers and sellers.'', supra note 3.
13 According to the characteristic of these mobile applications, additional classes would be beneficial.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.