"Flow" is now trademarked - Avoid it in your app name.

Just had an app removed from US Google Play (not world) due to the word Flow in my app. The company behind Flow Free are the ones who trademarked it. The file I received had a list of apps and going through them it looks like they are all puzzle games but quite a few not related at all to the Flow Free game style.

I’m a little frustrated because it counts as a violation on Google.

Anyone else have Flow in their app name?

They must have made some serious revenue from that game to justify that move.
I really despise the trademarking of single words. I can completely understand terms, like ‘Angry Birds’ or ‘Clash of Clans’ etc, but single words are just too far.

Take Candy Crush for example. They tried to trademark the term “candy”. They weren’t even the first developers to use the word in a game title.

In any case, its best practice to not use these words in your game name for free marketing. If a successful game used a rare term in their name, don’t go using it too.

I also have a flow game and received the same e-mail, but my game is still on google play and I can access it through the developers console, and so are all the other flow games still online.

The e-mail adress was: [email protected]

Is it valid? According to someone in this thread http://forums.makingmoneywithandroid.com/advertising-networks/2574-what-does-mean-google-play.html the e-mail adress they use for removal is this: [email protected]

Also when I searched this e-mail adress I came upon someone who says that it was fake. But I don’t know it might very well be real, but why are all the flow games still online, does it take a while to shut them down?

And where can we check that the name Flow has been trademarked? So everyone can trademark a game name and then let the other games shut down?

They maybe just trying it on. Generally trademarking single English words in English speaking countries is problematical. Also in the us there is a right of first use. Therefore if anyone can demonstrate usage of flow in a game before free flow, they can (I think) carry on. Has anyone searched the us trademark db to see if it is actually trademarked?

I did just check on TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System). There was a mark, flow, registered on 2 July 2014, #86326359, by Summer Media Lab SF Inc, ca. This mark is for “words, letters, and/or numbers in stylized form”. If this is the mark referred to, I would interpret the stylized form as referring to the particular font etc. as shown in the mark registration, and not to the use of the word in games. It could be worth at leadt firing off an email to Google pointing this out ( they may just ignore it though).

A bit more info. Single english words maybe trademarked but only if they are unconnected to the underlying business. So for example a fruit seller would not be able to trademark Apple, whereas Apple inc can, amongst others, because apple is unconnected with computers. As flow is a term that crops up a lot in computing (program flow, etc.) I suspect the company behind this trademark would struggle to get it accepted as a word trademark, hence they opted for the stylized trademark instead.

Well, here’s a small portion of their trademark info they listed in the mail:

trademark_explain: Big Duck Games, LLC owns federally registered trademarks
to “Flow” (Reg. No. 4,395,937), “Free Flow” (Reg. No. 4,320,256), “Flow
Free: Bridges” (Reg. No. 4,396,260), and the tile logo for Flow Free:
Bridges (Reg. No. 4,414,889), all for mobile games.

The problem I have is that Google didn’t even give us a chance to change the name. Everyone on the list is technically in violation now and it is a mark on our accounts. They also said we need to contact the trademark owners if we want our app republished (even after we change the name).

Big Duck do indeed have that, they got it in Sept 2013. It is really fu*ked that a trademark like this gets issued. Problem is once issued, Google have to comply but they should give period of time. Also should allow reissue without trademark.

Can somebody please PM this email / list to me?

When I set the language on my device to English (United States), I assume that I get the US android market on google play, or doesn’t it work that way?

Now all the Flow games, including mine, are still online. Does it take a while to take them down or do I not see the US play market with language set to English (US)?

@celaeno, could you PM me that list?

I’m very scared what will happen soon :frowning:

Probably it’s to late to change name now?

There is no need to pm the list, it seems like all the apps with flow in app title are on the list. Best thing you can do, is change your flow name in English (United States)

You’d need to be on the US market to see the app. Language won’t do it. I’m from Canada but my appbrain/appannie stats show it completely disappearing from the US market yesterday. Also it seems like it was only puzzle games targeted. But I think the trademark says all mobile games so if they wanted to I think they could come after any game with Flow in the title.

I didn’t get any email. I wonder why? What about you guys? Could you provide information when exactly (with hour) you have got such emails?

Now what to do next? We can change the app name and e-mail bigduckgames/attorney for asking to authorize google to republish the app, as explained in the e-mail from google, but the question is would they do that because it’s not in bigduckgames interest.

Second, we can take the old game down and publish a new one, or wouldn’t that be valid to do?

You CAN NOT Trademark a word, what you can trademark is a text logo and color. Flow is a game on the PS3 that came out 6 years before the above mentioned game so maybe the makers of flow should file a suit.

Unfortunately when trademark owner reports it to google, they probably always react according to trademark owner demand. Any developer could hire an laywer to defend himself - good luck with that! Small devs are literally screwed in such situations.

Unfortunately you can trademark a single word (just ask Apple). What is not clear (at least not to me)is whether a trademark like this applies to titles that include the word or just the word on its own. So, for example, if a game was call “Big River Flow”, would this fall foul of the trademark? All a bit academic, as no indie dev could afford a lawyer to take on the big boys.

Incidentally, Big Duck’s trademark is only for mobile games (not tablets I guess), so the makers of that PS game are safe. They could easily have a trademark for Flow that covers console games. This is because trademarks are against a particular class. This is how Apple computers and Apple the record label could both trademark Apple for different products (this is also why, when Apple computers developed iTunes, you couldn’t get The Beatles for a long time until the legal dispute was settled).

The word apple is not trademarked just the logo. And the use of company name of “apple” for phones and computers.

Using Tess (The US patent and trademark office’s trademark search system), you can find several trademarks of the word Apple. You can also confirm Bid Duck’s trademark mentioned above.
http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/process/search/

The type of Big Duck’s trademark is “(4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK”. If it was a logo or character set written in a certain format, it would of the “(5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM” type, as shown by the “Mark Drawing Code” in the trademark entry.

Every developer should be aware of this simple (if clunky) search system. There is a similar one for the UK that also includes European and worldwide trademark searches.

This is Big Duck’s trademark 4395937 search result:

Word MarkFLOW
Goods and ServicesIC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038.
G & S: Computer game software for use on mobile and cellular phones.
FIRST USE: 20110411.
FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20120607
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code(4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number85833403
Filing DateJanuary 27, 2013
Current Basis1A
Original Filing Basis1A
Published for OppositionJune 18, 2013
Registration Number4395937
Registration DateSeptember 3, 2013
Owner(REGISTRANT) Big Duck Games LLC LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY WASHINGTON 18685 NE 56th Ct. Redmond WASHINGTON 98052
Attorney of RecordTHOMAS H. BUSCAGLIA
Type of MarkTRADEMARK
RegisterPRINCIPAL
Live/Dead IndicatorLIVE