Apple recently announced that there are now over 15,000 apps available on the iPhone, with over 500 million (!!!) downloaded since the App Store opened on July 10, 2008.  This seems to me a fairly definitive indication that users are loving the apps and all the additional functionality they provide.  In fact, it’s already hard to remember the iPhone pre-App Store.

500 million Apps downloaded since July 10, 2008

Of course, each of those 15,000+ apps is represented on the iPhone screen by a logo.  Moreover, each of these logos is a trademark.  With over a half billion downloads, it’s pretty clear that consumers are interacting with these trademarks on a regular basis.

This post is meant to serve as a reminder to small businesses, in particular small web/tech firms who are developing apps for the iPhone, to not underestimate the importance of protecting their logos through the trademark registration process.

Some companies use an app logo very similar or identical to their main business logo (i.e. Yellowpages.com, Myspace, Google Earth).  However, I’ve noticed that several (most?) apps are using different logos.  For example, here is the Safari logo as it appears on a Mac.  This logo is registered by Apple.

Safari design mark

On the other hand, here’s the Safari logo as it appears on the iPhone.  Surprisingly, I haven’t found either a registration or application on the trademark database.  That seems to be the case for several popular iPhone app logos.

Safari iPhone app

So is it worth it to obtain federal trademark registration for an app logo?  That’s a discussion for another post, but given the phenomenal rate of downloads so far, it seems like a foregone conclusion.  Companies struggling to find a market before may suddenly have an audience in the millions.  It’s not improbable that your app logo will become more recognised than your primary logo.  And if you’re a web/tech company who doesn’t have an iPhone app yet, be advised that you’re passing on a growing and highly enthusiastic market.