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Timely trademark registration: lessons from AirCare

Timely registration of trademark rights is a “must” when setting up a new business. Gorjan Jovanovski, a young entrepreneur from North Macedonia, learned this lesson the hard way when he was forced to re-brand his company, because he had not acted swiftly enough to protect his trademark rights.

In 2014, Gorjan Jovanovski developed and launched an app to monitor air pollution in North Macedonia. The app, MojVozduh(MyAir), which draws on open government data sources and curates publicly available data in a user-friendly way, was a great success, attracting over a million users. However, when he came to register MojVozduh(MyAir) as a trademark, he learned that another company had already claimed ownership of the name, forcing him to rebrand his business. Mr. Jovanovski shares his experience so that other small businesses understand the importance of timely registration of their trademark rights.

After finding out that Skopje in North Macedonia was one of the most polluted cities in Europe, Gorjan Jovanovski, CEO of AirCare, developed a mobile application to advocate for cleaner air. (Photo: Courtesy of AirCare)

Mr. Jovanovski is a software engineer, entrepreneur and a passionate eco-activist. In 2014, he was scrolling through an open data source from the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia, and was shocked to learn that air pollution levels in his country were dangerously high. While publicly available, the data, were “presented in a complex and incomprehensible way, and very difficult for an average user to figure out, so I decided to develop an application to interpret the data to spread public awareness about air pollution,” Jovanovski explains.

His mobile app and website, MojVozduh (MyAir), draws on open data sources relating to air pollution, curates it and presents it on a user-friendly dashboard, which explains the data in simple terms. The project fueled his interest in air pollution and prompted him to start advocating for clean air in his home country.

“Our innovation has been to pull together as much data as possible, from satellites, government networks, and volunteer station networks, and to display it in a simple, understandable format that anyone can understand,” Jovanovski says.

AirCare faces a trademark quandary

I really regret that I didn’t submit my trademark application earlier.

The MojVozduh (MyAir) app was a great success, attracting more than one million users. All was going well until Jovanovski began the process of applying for trademark rights over MojVozduh (MyAir). With these rights he would be able to better market and control how the trademark was used and by whom. That was when, to his surprise, he learned that someone else had claimed ownership of the name and was profiting from MyAir’s success: “I didn't think someone would do that, especially someone I knew personally. But they registered a company using the name MojVozduh (MyAir) to sell air purifiers, trying to fool consumers that we were the ones behind the technology,” he explains. This was a tough lesson for Jovanovski and his team. “I really regret that I didn’t submit my trademark application earlier. I certainly would have if I had known something like this could happen,” he reflects.

After five years of work, Jovanovski has now launched AirCare, rebranding his app in North Macedonia. “Although I wanted to keep the original name MojVozduh (MyAir) in my country, after what happened, I decided to rebrand the app as AirCare, a name that can also be recognized abroad. AirCare is now a registered trademark to prevent anyone else from free-riding on its success for financial gain,” says Jovanovski, who is in talks with intellectual property (IP) lawyers to register AirCare in other target markets.

Video: Watch Gorjan Jovanovski’s short-listed entry to the first World Intellectual Property Youth Video Competition.

Developing a goal-oriented application

By raising awareness about air pollution through AirCare, Jovanovski’s team wants to empower people to take positive climate action for a better future. “I want people to care about long-term issues such as air pollution and the climate crisis,” he explains.

AirCare is a purpose-driven mobile app. Since 2020, Jovanovski has focused all his efforts on creating AirCare to drive change and help environmentalists and concerned citizens spread the word about high levels of air pollution around the world.

"We educate people about the problems of air pollution, and empower them to act. We connect them with local NGOs and environmental groups, inform them about local rallies and workshops, and the politicians they can engage with," Jovanovski explains.

Jovanovski is also a co-founder of Green Humane City (Zelen Human Grad), and also secured a seat as an independent in Skopje’s city council local elections in 2021. "I have been an activist for the last eight years, and recently I ran as an independent member of the city council, and I got in!” he says.

Jovanovski has given more than 50 public talks, including a TED talk on air pollution in Skopje, North Macedonia. He has also won many awards, including the 2020 Macedonian Quality award from the President of the Republic, the 2020 Europe’s Best Young Entrepreneur award by the World Summit Awards, as well as a UN global award for his efforts with AirCare.

Gorjan Jovanovski is featured in the World Intellectual Property Day Youth Gallery.

AirCare app informs about the quality of air people
breathe. (Photo: Courtesy of AirCare)

About AirCare

AirCare is a mobile app that helps people know how good or bad the air quality is in their country. The app aims to inform every citizen about the quality of air that they breathe, helping raise awareness and inspire action.

  • Available on Android, iOS and online
  • Downloaded over 500.000 times
  • First version launched in December 2014
  • Uses open data to display air pollution
  • Has over 12,000 measuring stations from more than 30 networks around the world
  • Available in 40+ countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia