Dear More Simple,
I have invented the most AMAZING APP™ ever, but I need to PROTECT™ it from all those no-good ©COPYCATS who will certainly try to STEAL™ it from ©ME. What should I do to protect this IDEA™?! (See Fig. 1 of the attached PATENT PENDING digital email signature for more info on ©ME).
©2015 - Mr. Idea-O-Matic™
ALL LEFTS REVERSED
Dear Mr. Matic,
We hear you! There is nothing worse than describing your anonymous disappearing photo-text-emoticon app to a buddy in a bar only to find the very same app on the iTunes' best seller list the very next day! Rats!
TRADEMARKS & SERVICEMARKS
From our experience, filing an official trademark is best done by a qualified intellectual property attorney and runs around $1,000.
Some of the concepts you desire to trademark may require a service mark, not a trademark, indicating a proprietary Service versus a Product.
Keep in mind there are two stages of a Trade Mark or Service Mark:
Non-registered Trademarks - require no official filing of paperwork or fees. This is simply the act of placing the ™ symbol adjacent to the item you are considering a Mark of your Trade or Service. This indicates to the world you claim the trademark as your own. This non-registered state is oftentimes sufficient to define as use in commerce.
Registered Trademarks - have been submitted and accepted by the USPTO and are represented by the ® symbol. These are the ones your IP attorney would submit and pay for. You can only use the ® on a trade mark once it has been accepted by the USPTO.
PATENTS & PATENTS-PENDING
A Patent relates to an invention or the approved improvement of a product, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which says to the world this is your invention and is protected by law. If your invention is not yet approved by the Patent office, but you have indeed applied for a patent, you must mark your invention with the term Patent Pending to avoid penalty.
If you haven't already done so already, you will want to review this link from the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's a great read for the beach!