Transfer Pricing Associates

Whatsapp Too Lenient on IP

post Thursday November 22, 2012


The Dutch online dictionary, Van Dalen, has included a new word to their list of verbs. This word is ‘whatsappen’, which translates into “to send short electronic messages through the app WhatsApp”.  This is regarded as the epitome of success, when your product or service is so popular in the general public that it becomes a habit to make use of such services and ultimately ends up becoming a word worthy of being added to the dictionary.  Such recognition comes hand in hand with the protection of the intellectual property. However, a problem does arise. There is a risk of dilution of the ‘Whatsapp’ brand when being used as a verb as everyone will have the right to say and write ‘Whatsapp’.  It is thus in the owner of the trademark’s interest effectively navigate this obstacle. Whatsapp filed for international, European and Benelux trademark registrations in an attempts to avoid brand dilution.

The inclusion of ‘Whatsapp’ in the dictionary could work both ways, either they will enjoy the same success as that of Jacuzzi, Walkman and Spa whom all enjoy trademark protection to this day, or they suffer the same fate as Bikini.

The representatives of the Van Dale dictionary have argued that it is not necessarily the case that the inclusion of the term ‘whatsappen’ in the dictionary automatically dilutes the trademark rights. Whatsapp however should reinforce to its users that the verb in the dictionary originates from the brand and take further steps to insure the authors’ rights. Further, according to the Whatsapp website, anyone is entitled to make use of the intellectual property, thus making them more vulnerable to brand dilution.

Source: Novagraaf,
image: Free Digital Photos

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