Apple sues Amazon over ‘App Store’ trademark | iLounge News

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Apple sues Amazon over ‘App Store’ trademark

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2011
News Categories: Apple, Apps + Games, iTunes

Apple has sued Amazon over its use of the “App Store” trademark, according to a Bloomberg report. In the complaint, filed March 18 in federal court in northern California, Apple accuses Amazon of trademark infringement and unfair competition, and asks for a court order to stop Amazon from using the App Store name, as well as for unspecified damages. Amazon officially opened its Amazon Appstore for Android today, offering many of the same apps as Apple’s App Store, such as the new Angry Brids Rio, but actually began using the term earlier this year. “Amazon has unlawfully used the App Store mark to solicit software developers throughout the United States,” Apple states in its suit. Notably, Apple is currently involved in a dispute with Microsoft over the “App Store” trademark, over which Microsoft has filed an objection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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Comments

1

IANAL, but isn’t it a bit premature to sue someone *before* you actually have been granted a trademark that is in dispute at the registration level?

Particularly since the odds are that Apple will not onto this particular trademark since, no matter what some want to believe, “app” has been in common use for three decades as short for software application, which makes naming a store that sells apps every bit as obvious and generic as “shoe store” or “flower shop”. If Apple, merely by capitalizing the words “app” and “store” can claim that it’s unique and defensible as a trademark, there is no way that Amazon can’t make a similar claim to merging the words “app” and “store” for their store.

By taking on both Microsoft and Amazon with such an incredibly weak trademark claim, Apple’s bound to lose in at least one of the cases.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on March 22, 2011 at 9:50 AM (PDT)

2

I guess this is in retaliation for Amazon suing Apple over its 1-click button (Apple lost).  Hell hath no fury like an Apple scorned.

Posted by jimmyBobSmith on March 22, 2011 at 7:02 PM (PDT)

3

@2: That, and Apple is one of the most litigious corporations I’ve ever seen. Additionally, without actually going to court, they’ve managed to seize control of a number of website domains and strong armed numerous electronics and electronics accessory makers into changing the names of their products merely by threatening they would go to court over brilliant claims such as any products with “pod” in their names were infringing even though in many cases “pod” was clearly and obviously in reference to the root for “foot” or its common use meaning of “container”. Apple is really over the line with their claims to owning modern and ancient languages, and this case is following in that trend.

Ironically, I think it was Apple’s own attempt to be so cheeky that is going to lose them these cases. The terms “app” and “store” are used by other vendors without contest from Apple, sp they’re claiming putting two generic terms together “app” and “store” rises to trademarked status, whereas most of their competition are putting actual and obvious trademarks into their name, e.g. “Blackberry App World”. Trademarks have been issued and defended with phrases made purely of generic terms in the past, but very few two word phrases and none of such an obvious two word phrase (e.g. “Vision Center” is trademarked but you wouldn’t immediately think of going to the “center” to get your eyes checked). In particular, if their trademark had been for the “Apple App Store” they’d actually have a bit stronger claim against the “Amazon Appstore” (albeit not much of one). However, by claiming the obvious and generic “App Store” rises to a trademark for the Apple app store, I can’t imagine a snowflake’s chance that the actually much more original and non-generic phrase “Amazon Appstore” will be ruled as infringing.

You’ve got a chicken and egg scenario where I don’t see any clear defense of Apple’s position. Yes, Apple’s iOS app store, without a doubt, played a key role in bringing awareness of the moniker “app” as a software program to the unwashed masses. Yet, Apple didn’t coin the term or put any unique spin on what it means; it’s always been short for software APPlication for decades. Additionally, such major players as Blackberry were calling their mobile platform’s app store “Blackberry App World” from 8 months after Apple launched the “App Store” app store. There’s the “Palm App Catalog” (started <1 yr from Apple’s app store), there’s the “Samsung Application Store” and “Samsung Apps Mobile”, in use for nearly 2 years, there was a “PocketGear App Store” (absorbed by the older mobile app service, Handango) that coexisted with the Apple “App Store”, and so on. “App”, “Store”, and even “App Store” have all been part of trademarked names for other mobile app stores for years now, so I doubt very much that Apple will be able to hold onto their claim of “App Store” as an Apple trademark at all given the phrase’s ubiquity for everybody’s app stores in common use and the press, never mind the huge hurdle they’ll have of convincing a judge that the “Amazon Appstore” is any less original or more confusing to consumers than the many other “App” and “Store” variations of app stores already out there.

Most weird is the emphasis in some of the original articles and the iLounge summary regarding the use of “Angry Birds Rio” in press for the Amazon Appstore. Neither Angry Birds nor its dev have a single thing to do with Apple or the Apple app store in any direct way. It’s an independent product from an independent developer. It’s been released on multiple platforms, including the PC. This is the sort of sleight of hand that tricks people into believing Apple has a leg to stand on in their protestations over “app” and “store” in regards to others app stores. Just because the Angry Birds franchise has had the greatest success on iOS and is one of the first programs on the iPhone people think of does not actually begin to make it an iOS product in any way, nor is there any confusion to consumers from Amazon’s offering of the product and journalists shouldn’t even rise to the obvious red herring.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on March 23, 2011 at 8:21 AM (PDT)

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