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‘It’s an App, App, ‘Appy Day!’

The Law is an App.

At least, trade mark law now is…

Three days ago, we launched our first mobile application for iPhone and Blackberry:  NameSearch TM Legal.

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If you are reading this on an iPhone or BB, you can download the App free from the above link.

You can also read the review in the AppStore.

namesearch for iPhoneNameSearch TM Legal helps you protect your trade marks, business names, product names, logos and brands and is designed as a resource tool for brand consultants, creative agencies, designers, NPD specialists, marketing executives and entrepreneurs.

In addition to a constantly-updated feed on what’s happening in the world of brands and marks, you can also request free trade mark search reports on the legal availability of business and product names and free legal advice on names, logos, trade marks and brands from the IP Team at Silverman Sherliker LLP.

You also have the full text of the UK Trade Marks Act 1994 at your fingertips.

The journey from the dawn of the initial idea to its eventual launch in the Appstore has been a long and formative one and, like most journeys, it has taught me quite a lot.

This is what I have learned.

Lesson 1: When you want to generate a new idea …go large.

There are a lot of iPhone applications about trade marks and ‘matters legal’ but a lot of them just replicate legal statutes and provide very limited functionality. They are stuffy. They are basically just adverts.

I wanted to create a really useful tool for anyone involved in branding, trade marks, name creation, design, NPD or business start-ups. Something that would enable busy creatives and entrepreneurs to clarify the legal availablity of new trade marks, brands and designs ‘on the hoof’, as it were …in a taxi, at the water-cooler, from the white-hot centre of the brain-storming session. In short, I wanted it to deliver  something of real value for the creative and entrepreneurial community.

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So what about an app that enables anyone in the world to request a free trade mark search and get an initial professional assessment of the results from their iPhone or Blackberry?

Okay. That’s not bad.

But what if people could also request free legal advice on branding and trade marks as well and request a fee quote for the registration of their chosen mark at the same time?

Better.

What about logos, graphics and designs? Could people take a quick snap of the logo or graphic with the iPhone camera and upload it from the app into our CRM database for immediate legal evaluation? ……er, yes….

name+first screen

So I think this is the most important part of the process.

Get excited. Ask yourself what would be the best thing you could possibly create…and then keep adding stuff.

Be demanding of yourself …and keep demanding.

Keep on asking yourself …. ‘Why not?’ …and ‘What if?’

So could we have improved on the first version of the app that we submitted to Apple?

Yes, we most definitely could. In fact, it was the initial and disappointing rebuff from Apple (more below) that drove us on to produce what we now think is a really fantastic application.

We hope that you will agree.

Lesson 2: Choose a good, professional iPhone App developer

Come on, guys! …We are lawyers, not tekkies!

Don’t skimp on the choice of a good developer.

Don’t just settle for the cheapest offer on eLance from Timbuktoo.

It makes much more sense, in my opinion, to pay the premium for having a good local developer who you can brief face-to-face and who is reasonably near to home when a few home-truths need to be shared. They will have a better understanding of your business and what you are trying to do if you can discuss the project with them across a table and they will probably come up with a much better look-and-feel for the new application as a result.

Include them in the conversation right from the beginning. What seems impossible and expensive to a work-a-day lawyer suddenly appears to be do-able.

I can whole-heartedly recommend my friends Ankush and Jason at PolydiamInfosoft. They are extremely dedicated and client-centric folk and showed great patience and fortitude in bringing this new app into being.

Great guys.

Lesson 3: (the big one) Never Give Up.

My Twitter friends know that this is a recurring Churchillian theme of mine and will forgive me. But there will be bumps in the road in any project. Sometimes they are big bumps that throw you off the road completely. We ended up in the proverbial ditch in March on this one:

namesearch status

The gestation period of this app has been 6 long months rather than the intended 2 months. The idea was conceived early one morning in December 2009, whilst shaving. I get a lot of good ideas whilst shaving. Developers were appointed and briefed in late December and we anticipated a launch in February. In fact, it was March 2010 before we were first in a position to submit the fledgling app to Apple Inc for assessment for inclusion in the AppStore.

Now, Apple Inc became very skittish in March 2010 for some unknown reason and suddenly started rejecting perfectly good applications on the flimsiest of pretexts, at least this is what I have managed to glean from various sources.

In short, our application was rejected because it, and I quote, ‘did not make full use of the available iPhone functionality’.

Well, stuff you, Duckie!

We found ourselves in the proverbial ditch.

So we went back to the drawing board with our developers, who were as frustrated as were we, and we started to build an even better application.

We incorporated the full text of the UK Trade Marks Act 1994.

We built in an RSS blog feed so that we could now offer bloggers on branding and design a further outlet for their blog-posts. We included a Twitterfeed.

We refined the back-end CRM databases to enable us to communicate with our enquirers by email and by SMS.

We upgraded the graphics and revisited the screen designs and the copy.

We resubmitted on June 9th and were notified of the inclusion of Namesearch TM Legal in the AppStore on June 15th….and great was the celebration.

In its first 3 days, and without any advertising apart from a few tentative tweets on Twitter, we have scored 164 downloads of our new application worldwide.

namesearch stats

Interestingly, many of the initial enquiries are from Canada and the US so we will immediately be setting up a  referral conduit to our trade mark affiliates in those countries to handle those enquiries effectively.

NB: Don’t Miss Your Blog Opportunity

We are also looking for relevant blogs on marketing, branding and design to include in the application’s RSS feed so if you would like your blog included please do get in touch with me as soon as possible and we can help get you an increasing, targetted readership for all of your blog-posts.

Just email me at cjs@silvermansherliker.co.uk. We can include your blog in the Namesearch application within a few seconds and would be delighted to extend this courtesy to you. Don’t be shy!

May all your ideas be big ones.

I look forward to meeting you in the ditch.

(NB: NameSearch TM Legal has recently been updated for iPhone 4 and is available for download from the Appstore and from out new Trademark Registration web-site launched on 20th May)

Chris Sherliker

namesearch+cjs

@London_Law_Firm
cjs@silvermansherliker.co.uk
Tel:  +44  (0)20 7749 2700

Silverman Sherliker LLP, 7 Bath Place, London EC2A 3DR

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