Image Courtesy: Yuko Honda @ FlikrFor those not keeping up with the technological trends of America’s youths, Snapchat is a mobile app that allows you to send photos and videos to contacts that are supposed to delete themselves after a few seconds. It gives young people a fun, fast, and free means to communicate with one another that won’t regrettably wind up in the ether of the internet (although that claim has been brought into question). But if recent trademark filings are any indication, the company might be looking to monetize their app in the future.

Snapchat has filed for two trademarks related to mobile payments. In the filings uncovered by TechCrunch, the company has applied for trademark related to “computer application software for processing electronic payments to and from others that may be downloaded from a global computer network,” as well as “electronic transfer of money for others; providing electronic processing of electronic funds transfer, ACH, credit card, debit card, electronic check and electronic, mobile and online payments.” The rather general nature of the filings leaves plenty of room of speculation as to how exactly Snapchat might implement a mobile payment system, or towards what end. Snapchat has yet to officially comment on the filing.

The filing might be the first step in addressing an issue that many app developers face: the monetizing of their creation. Snapchat famously turned down Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition bid, presumably with an eye towards creating its own revenue streams. It had been previously rumored that more advertising might be added, and integrating the ability for users to purchase an advertised product or service within the app would seem a logical next step. Snapchat has also recently added location-specific filters to its app, which add a “sticker” to a user’s photo within a certain geolocation. The new feature might allow for the possibility of partnering with companies to create custom stickers.

Whatever its next step, Snapchat has made the smart move of staking out its intellectual property (IP) territory before spending time or resources on development of an idea they didn’t hold the rights to–a smart IP protection move. These trademark filings will protect them from the possibility of other companies trying to poach those rights from them. Protecting their idea also helps their bottom line, as a trademark on ideas for future development will undoubtedly increase their valuation should they look to go public in the future.

It's time for you to figure out what kind of IP you have so you can start protecting it today.