A fortnight after reports surfaced that photography platform Instagram had updated its guidelines to ban apps that feature the words ‘INSTA’ or ‘GRAM’, the Facebook-owned company has lodged an Australian trade mark application for the term ‘INSTA’.
TechCrunch reported two weeks ago that, although it doesn’t currently hold the trade mark for either specific term, Instagram had sent an email to app developers telling them that connected apps that use the words ‘INSTA’ or ‘GRAM’ (such as the popular Luxogram app) will be banned from accessing Instagram unless modified “within a reasonable period”.
Instagram said in the email to developers:
As we hope you can appreciate, protection of its well-known trademarks is very important to Instagram. For example, it has always been against our guidelines to use a name that sounds or looks like “Instagram” or copies the look and feel of our application.
It was assumed this meant the protection of its ‘INSTAGRAM’ trade mark, which it holds in the US, Australia and around the world.
It now seems that Instagram wants the trade mark for at least one of those specific terms.
The company lodged an Australian trade mark on Monday, September 2, for the word ‘INSTA’, alongside the lnstagram logo (pictured).
The trade mark covers five classes across different technology and photographic goods and services. In summary, they include:
Class 9: Downloadable computer software for modifying the appearance and enabling transmission of photographs
Class 38: Telecommunications services, namely electronic transmission of data, messages, graphics, images and information; broadcasting services over computer or other communication networks namely, uploading, posting, displaying, tagging, and electronically transmitting data, information, messages, graphics, and images
Class 41: Photosharing and data sharing services; electronic journals and web logs featuring user generated or specified content
Class 42: Providing a web site that gives users the ability to upload photographs; file sharing services, namely, providing a website featuring technology enabling users to upload and download electronic files; providing temporary use of non-downloadable software applications for social networking, creating a virtual community, and transmission of audio, video, photographic images, text, graphics and data; computer services in the nature of customized web pages featuring user-defined or specified information, personal profiles, audio, video, photographic images, text, graphics and data
Class 45: Social introduction, networking and dating services; providing access to computer databases in the fields of social networking, social introduction and dating
The trade mark application was lodged by the Californian office of ‘Instagram LLC’ and an Australian legal representative, Spruson & Ferguson.
It remains at the early status of ‘Indexing Approved’, meaning it has not been seen by an IP examiner.
A further search reveals that the company also lodged a similar US trade mark for the term ‘INSTA’ in March. A decision is not due on that application until December.
Instagram was purchased by social media giant Facebook last year for approximately USD$1 billion. Facebook is known for its strict brand protection, including a very similar move last year – trade marking the words ‘FACE’, ‘BOOK’, the letter ‘F’ and 70 other Facebook associated terms.
Click to view a screenshot of Instagram’s ‘INSTA’ trade mark application.