Why some trademarks might be more trouble than they are worth.

There’s a new iPhone game controller coming out. How do we know? The trademark filing was leaked.

Not ideal news for Apple, as the secrecy and security of their products is almost as important to them as marketing and technology.

So what happened?

Well, when Apple first released iOS 7, they briefly hinted at getting involved with game controllers. A teaser, if you will. But that was then. Later, some eagle-eyed person spotted a listing page online via Legalforce, the trademark and patent-filing database.

And gossip spreads quickly in today’s world of social media.

The listing cites an ‘intergrated game control device and battery pack for use with computers and digital electronic devices’. It was filed in September by Logitech, who have since between tweeted as the developers.

The skeptic in me says that this should be some cool marketing ploy from Apple, but it isn’t. Apple haven’t mentioned the controller at any of their recent events and it’s clearly a red-faced moment for the brand. It’s not like they’re revealing a cheeky glimpse of the latest iPhone design – instead the slip-up has inadvertently let the world know of what other directions they want to move in.

So what should the duty of care be when you’re filing for a trademark or registering any intellectual property? And what about after you’ve been granted what you want?

Well, you can discuss your business or invention with other people, just make sure they sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). But be aware that no one NDA works in every situation; you’ll have to think about what you need.

In terms of online registration, any reputable trademark office will naturally have very tight confidentiality concerns. But good offices will actually give you advice on confidentiality and put all your concerns to bed before you submit anything. The same goes for any trademarks that you want to register across the EU and beyond.

The issue with Legalforce is clearly an oversight caused by modern times, but it’s a poor one nonetheless. Quite what the full repercussions will be for the future of registering trademark applications online, only time will tell. But it’s a high-profile error, so you can expect some tweaks.

I think generally, you’re pretty safe filing online. But confidentiality should certainly be at the top of your list of must-haves when it comes to trademark registration and IP registration of any sort.

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