Microsoft trying to block Apple’s ‘App Store’ trademark | iLounge News

Microsoft trying to block Apple’s ‘App Store’ trademark

Microsoft has confirmed that it is attempting to block Apple’s trademark application for the phrase “App Store.” BBC News reports that Microsoft has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to reject the application on the basis that it is too broad. “An ‘app store’ is an ‘app store’,” said Russell Pangborn, Microsoft’s associate general counsel. “Like ‘shoe store’ or ‘toy store’, it is a generic term that is commonly used by companies, governments and individuals that offer apps. The term ‘app store’ should continue to be available for use by all without fear of reprisal by Apple.” Apple first filed for the trademark in 2008, and this week launched its second application store—the Mac App Store—alongside the release of Mac OS X 10.6.6.

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Apple has behaved like an insane tyrant with their trademark claims in recent years, the biggest farce being forcing oft unrelated companies to drop “Pod” from their (product) names through intimidation even though I wasn’t aware Apple was thousands of years old and created the Greek language. Unlike these small companies that caved rather than challenge Apple’s army of lawyers, MS has their own army, and happens to be 100% correct.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 12, 2011 at 11:27 AM (CST)


Ummm, What did MS call their “app store” when they did their failed attempt at the same thing awhile ago?
They didn’t call it “App Store” because it wasn’t obvious or generic at the time.
It is only after Apple made the term popular that Microsoft now wants to copy it - pretty much like everything else.

Posted by Johnny Goode on January 12, 2011 at 11:54 AM (CST)


@2: It doesn’t matter what you call it, what they called, what Apple calls it, it is and was generic and you can’t trademark generic, full stop. There’s nothing to argue against unless you want to look like a typical anti-MS, pro-Apple idjit.

No one, and I mean no one, should ever be cheering on a corporation taking ownership of the use of plain language regardless of which corporation is doing it.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 12, 2011 at 12:52 PM (CST)


Apple has been really obnoxious in basically landgrabbing others’ trademarks/words over the past five or six years (think “podcast,” “iPhone,” “iPad”), but this particular one is anything but generic. Microsoft and others have sought to make it become generic by using similar language ever since Apple introduced the phrase “App Store,” but unlike the prior examples, this is one where Apple’s certainly in the right.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on January 12, 2011 at 1:06 PM (CST)


While I have not agreed with many Apple tactics, this one has a lot of gray area around it. The term “App” has supplanted the term “software” in most popular uses. This came about almost entirely because Apple popularized it within iTunes and their mobile devices.

“Pod” has been locked down a little too stringently in my opinion. If you are a company trying to grow your product from the seed of Apples marketing (say, portable speakers that use “pod” in the name), then you are obviously overstepping. If you make a device that hard boils eggs and simply uses “pod” because of the shape…then you should not fear the wrath of Apple.

This one will be interesting indeed.

Posted by Mitch on January 12, 2011 at 1:41 PM (CST)


While the term “App” has been around along time and is probably generic, the phrase “App Store” was not part of popular vernacular until spring 2008 when Apple announced that they were creating their application sales platform which they chose to give the catchy and descriptive name “App Store”.  Therefore Apple has the right to protect it IMO.

Posted by BrennerM on January 12, 2011 at 2:22 PM (CST)


Take the blinders off. App has been in use for a lot longer than there were iPods (Webster’s puts its first known use as 1987) - it may been become much more popular through the iTunes “App Store” (tm pending ;)), but Apple didn’t coin the shortened form of application anymore than they started the whole mp3 player thing. And “store”, please don’t tell me you apologists think there’s anything remotely clever about putting a generic word + “store”.

“App Store” “Shoe Store” “Comic Store” “Music Store” “Chocolate Store” “Grocery Store” “Computer Store” “Candy Store” “Software Store” “Coffee Store” “Beer and Wine Store” “Kite Store” “Pet Store”, do I really need to go on to demonstrate the pure asininity of defending Apple in this case?

I don’t even begin to understand by what Jedi mind tricks Apple has duped Jeremy, who is normally pretty balanced, into not seeing through this complete chicanery of claiming trademark over the patently obvious use of the English language.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 12, 2011 at 3:05 PM (CST)


Remember when “windows” were generic?

Posted by orgel on January 12, 2011 at 3:10 PM (CST)


Im with Apple on this one, it’s not about a generic word with “store” after it, it’s the association of “App Store” with Apple, you say App Store, i think Apple and iTunes.

Posted by Andy in London, UK on January 12, 2011 at 3:28 PM (CST)


I agree with #9,.. the term APP STORE is associated with iTunes.  Even if it might sound to generic, if other have the same name for their store the consumer can get confused thinking of ONE general place to go.  another solution would be if apple rename it to itunes App Store…

Posted by dennis on January 12, 2011 at 3:53 PM (CST)


/me bang head on desk again.

How zombified we have become by corporate culture when the fact you have been taught to associate a plain English phrase with a particular entity that you support that corporation in locking it down from everyone else.

Keep ownership of everyday language with everyday people.

It should be incredibly difficult to get a trademark,  not merely a function of using an obvious term alongside your clearly branded word, “iTunes”.

I mean, they used to call it the iTunes Music Store before they shortened it to just iTunes Store because of so much non-music content. By the “logic” being employed by some in this thread, Apple has an equal stake in claiming they own the trademark to “Music Store”.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 12, 2011 at 4:01 PM (CST)


@7: No company was using the phrase “App Store” in the way Apple started to use it _until_ Apple started to use it; “apps” wasn’t common parlance amongst the general public, either; at best it was industry jargon. Apple pushed the term forward as a shortened description of “application” and an alternative to “software” or “programs.” It just made sense. Very soon thereafter, rival companies started to say that their phones had “apps” and were talking about opening “app stores” with various but similar names.

Call it a Jedi mind trick, but I’ll call it mere memory of what things were like before Apple started using the term. This sort of debate over “which came first” is one reason that patents and trademarks are so tricky. As I learned in training (and practicing) as an IP attorney, there’s only one inventor and dozens or hundreds of people who want to benefit from exploiting the wisdom of the supposedly obvious or generic invention.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on January 12, 2011 at 4:26 PM (CST)


Jeremy, I don’t find any part of your argument regarding Apple’s ability to popularize something remotely convincing. They sell apps at an app store. Arguing that they have an argument by claiming they popularized the iTunes App Store would mean they also own “podcast”, which, of course, many ignorantly believe.

If they want to trademark “iTunes App Store” and “Apple App Store” and “Mac App Store”, let them, but just “app store”, it’s nuts to argue that. We may as well let Barnes & Noble own “Book Store” and “Starbucks” own “Coffee Store” and Home Depot and Lowes can have a cage match over who owns “Hardware Store”.

I think the fact it’s Microsoft challenging it has poisoned people’s brains to common sense.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 12, 2011 at 4:36 PM (CST)


Code Monkey has it right. “App” is just short for “application” and always has been. So an App Store is a pretty generic concept. Apple can call theirs the iTunes App Store if they want. People are usually against anybody trademarking or patenting basic concept (like Amazon’s patent of 1-click buying, what a crock that was). Microsoft is helping everyone out by stopping Apple’s silliness on this.

Posted by brted on January 12, 2011 at 4:43 PM (CST)


@13, I’m not trying to convince you of anything; to try and teach a semester (or even a day) worth of trademark law here is beyond the scope of my interest in this topic. I’m just providing the explanation for what the court is most likely going to rule at the end of this process after Apple files what should be a very straightforward response to Microsoft’s motion.

As a brief primer, putting the specific companies (Apple + Microsoft) aside so that passions aren’t inflamed, this is how trademark law works: if Starbucks had been founded decades ago under the name Cofshop, it would have been able to trademark the name after developing popular awareness and association that the phrase most commonly referred to its offering. Someone could try to challenge the trademark before it’s filed, claiming that the concept is generic, or that someone else was using the word(s) first, but after the trademark’s approved, it’s comparably difficult to challenge. Apple popularized and associated its products with a nomenclature that became globally famous, and others subsequently rushed to use as well. The only question is whether a judge will see it that way, or suggest that everyone was using the words “App Store” in this way prior to Apple’s 2008 filing.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on January 12, 2011 at 4:52 PM (CST)


Hot Spot:
1- A geologically active area.
2- A dangerous area of unrest and hostile activity.
3- A local coffee house.
4- A 1990 film directed by Dennis Hopper.
5- The subject of the next corporate whizzing war.

I’m just sayin’ ...

Posted by rockmyplimsoul on January 12, 2011 at 6:26 PM (CST)


@15: The issue here, to my way of thinking, isn’t about the general absurdity of trademark laws, they’re pretty insane on the face of it in my opinion. It’s that this particular attempt by Apple to avoid competition by chucking sand in the gas tanks of the competition through their army of lawyers is even more asinine than usual.

Apple, you, and their lawyers can spin BS about the particular origin of the phrase, but it won’t change anything. The problem is that the potential trademark is all of two words, and one word is “store”. When describing, well, a store, it’s about as trademarkable as “The” or “a” when you use a search engine. It’s so ubiquitous and common that the word should not be considered. That leaves a single word, “app”, and, after all, that what the store is selling. An app store sells apps. A shoe store sells shoes. A hardware store sells hardware. There’s nothing unique, original, or clever there, it’s simply descriptive like “blue sky” or “hard candy”. Just because you were the first app store to brand yourself an “App Store” doesn’t make it a trademark.

Effectively, Apple is claiming a trademark on the word “app”, and since it predates the iTunes App Store store by at least two decades, any judge that would rule in the favor of Apple should be kicked off the bench and prevented from any job more difficult than scrubbing toilets at a frat house, and that might prove a little difficult for someone of that limited intellect and common sense.

This isn’t about Apple protecting their turf from other companies from running to use “their” term, it’s preventing other companies from using the most logical term to begin with as part of their name. Just because Apple spent tens of millions to train the sheep out there like a herd of Pavlovian dogs to think “Apple” or “iTunes” every time they hear the words “app store” doesn’t make it Apple’s any more than Subway or Quiznos owns “sub shop”. There’s a reason we have specific brands in addition to generic descriptors, and the stupidity of Apple’s claims is a perfect example. They don’t want to own the “Apple App Store” or the “iTunes App Store” or even the “Apple iTunes App Store”, no, they just want to own App Store, period.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 12, 2011 at 7:30 PM (CST)


Just a couple of observations:

Every version of windows I’ve ever used has used the term “programs” to describe the software used within whereas every version of OSX I’ve used has a folder labeled “applications” for the same purpose.

As a non-technogeek average computer user, I personally never heard the term “app” used before the introduction of the iPod Touch. I did, however know what the term meant immediately because my Macs had gotten me used to using applications rather than programs.

Posted by ScooterD35 on January 12, 2011 at 7:52 PM (CST)


Oh yeah I forgot to mention, as I write this I happen to be wearing a t-shirt with a cartoon of a guy in shades and sandals playing a guitar with the registered trademark “Life is good.” beneath his feet.

Posted by ScooterD35 on January 12, 2011 at 8:13 PM (CST)


@17 “like a herd of Pavlovian dogs to think “Apple” or “iTunes” every time they hear the words “app store” - That was uncalled for, I was just making a point.

Posted by Andy in London, UK on January 12, 2011 at 8:31 PM (CST)

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