Mobile device use has finally surpassed laptops as the number one way in which consumers browse online marketplaces, catch up on news, and check their Facebook accounts.  According to Stonetemple.com, 55.79% of web traffic now originates from mobile devices.  And with more than 5 million apps available for download in the Google Play and Apple App Store combined, apps are big business.  It’s estimated that by 2020 mobile apps will generate over $189 billion dollars in revenue.    

This growth is to be expected. Apps are fast and convenient and have become a staple of everyday life. Unfortunately, they can also be dangerous. A recent report from McAfee revealed that apps are the number one source of malware for mobile devices. In other words, users put their devices at the greatest security risk when they download apps.

Even with the safeguards employed by app stores—which include some of the strictest security measures possible—hackers are still able to slip in malicious apps, including recently, one disguised as a popular, branded app. That application, once downloaded on an unsuspecting consumer's phone, installed malware that would lead a user to a phishing website to capture the user’s credentials. The app was removed from the store, but not before being downloaded by countless unsuspecting individuals.

The possibility of trademark infringement in mobile apps combined with the threat of security risks poses a significant concern for app developers. If a hacker creates a mobile app that contains malware, how would he ensure that users download his app? He may choose to stick a well-known logo or brand name on it with the expectation that users would believe the app was coming from a trusted source.

Brand holders face an increasing number of reasons to ensure that third parties are not using their famous, trusted names in rogue apps. Not only will a poorly designed third-party app that infringes on the brand's trademark tarnish their trusted name, but now the brand run the risk that the infringing app may contain malicious software.

If a company’s brand becomes associated with such malware, it could potentially damage the public’s overall trust and confidence in that brand. Now, more than ever, companies must vigilantly monitor third party apps for infringing content—to protect both the integrity and the security of their brands. As the number of mobile app downloads continues to increase, app monitoring services are becoming an essential tool in a company’s overall brand management toolkit. At the end of the day, it is in the best interest of a brand holder to ensure that no unauthorized third-party apps use its trusted trademarks or brand names. 

 This post provides generalized information and does not constitute legal advice or an attorney-client communication. Each situation is unique and requires consultation with suitable professionals.

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