Apple to Microsoft: App Store is generic but Windows isn't?

By on March 3, 2011, 10:42 AM
Two months ago, Microsoft asked the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to reject Apple's application to trademark the term "App Store" because it is too generic. Cupertino has countered this by reminding Redmond that it successfully trademarked "Windows" a few decades ago.

Apple filed a Opposition/Response to Motion (PDF, courtesy of TechFlash) with the USPTO. Here's an excerpt of Apple's argument:

Microsoft now asks the Board to summarily eradicate Apple’s commercial rights in its APP STORE mark on the purported basis that APP STORE has become generic. Having itself faced a decades-long genericness challenge to its claimed WINDOWS mark, Microsoft should be well aware that the focus in evaluating genericness is on the mark as a whole and requires a fact-intensive assessment of the primary significance of the term to a substantial majority of the relevant public. Yet, Microsoft, missing the forest for the trees, does not base its motion on a comprehensive evaluation of how the relevant public understands the term APP STORE as a whole.

If Microsoft managed to trademark Windows all those years ago, should Apple be allowed to trademark App Store?





User Comments: 27

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LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Apple already got their freebie generic one - "Apple"

Raswan Raswan said:

Nope. App, to me at least, is an abbreviation for APPLICATION. Which every smart phone and tablet uses. Windows, on the other hand, is like, oh, say, POD or PAD. Take a generic noun and apply it to a unique/proprietary technological mechanism.

Sure, Microsoft may be being dickish about it, but it's a legitimate concern. Letting Apple trademark App Store takes the generally accepted and used popular colloquialism and thus gives Apple an unfair advantage, which is what the law is meant to prevent, in spirit at least.

Of course, Apple knows this and it is why they are trying to trademark it in the first place. Nice try, but if they allow it it's a durn shame.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The difference is that Windows, like Apple, is a word that does not have any implicit connection with computers, like the word app store does.

If MS wanted to trademark "OS" or "operating system", that would be a more appropriate point for Apple to to make.

They should have trademarked App Store when they were the only game in town. Now that the term has become used by the media to refer to all "app stores", can't put the genie back in the bottle.

Kenrick said:

Looks like Microsoft had accepted defeat in the mobile market by pursuing this case. Instead, they should make use of the time and money to hire creative people to name their mobile market.

princeton princeton said:

Nice try apple. The product name is MICROSOFT windows. Not just windows.

Punkid said:

windows can be described as an operating system, how do u describe the APP STORE? well u call it an app store ofc :|

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

lncpapa said:

Apple already got their freebie generic one - "Apple"

Exactly, and they should only be allowed to call it 'Apple Store' ..........

Whoaman said:

I don't think any company should be able to trademark any word that has a widely recognized non-trademarked meaning in any language. Windows, App, Apple etc. If a company wants a trademark on a word then make up a new one.

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

If "The Container Store" can have its trademark why can't Apple

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Why can't Apple be creative like Intel and Google? Google has "The Android Market" and Intel has "AppUp". App Store is just too generic to be trademarked. It sounds to me like the kid in an argument who has nothing better to respond with than "yeah...well...yo mama". And besides, as someone else pointed out, it's "Microsoft Windows", not just "Windows." Even if it was just "Windows" that would make sense...can't have two operating systems with the same name. Windows can mean the operating system, or the glass in your home and car. App Store, on the other hand, simply refers to a store that sales applications. WAY too generic.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

kenrick said:

Looks like Microsoft had accepted defeat in the mobile market by pursuing this case. Instead, they should make use of the time and money to hire creative people to name their mobile market.

Actually, I would interpret this in the exact opposite manner. If Microsoft was accepting defeat in the mobile market, they wouldn't give a rat's butt whether or not Apple could trademark "App Store" or not. They are fighting because they are heavily invested in the mobile game, not because they have given up.

Whoaman said:

matrix86 said:

Windows can mean the operating system, or the glass in your home and car. App Store, on the other hand, simply refers to a store that sales applications. WAY too generic.

I would think it was the other way around. "App Store" is highly specific relative to "Windows" which are an utterly common generic item along with a widely used metaphorical term and additionally the name of Microsoft's OS.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Raswan said:

Nope. App, to me at least, is an abbreviation for APPLICATION.

Indeed, I personally have been writing/saying "app" long before Apple came along with it's App Store and I'm sure others have been too. This term is simply to generic and one could argue any store selling software is an "App Store".

While Microsoft is being hypocritical here, I find it kind of ironic they are attacking Windows when Microsoft just a few years ago was fighting for trademark violations on its generic terms and cited Apple. If I'm not mistaken Microsoft went ahead and settled this before losing more ground and being ruled generic with Windows.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Whoaman said:

I don't think any company should be able to trademark any word that has a widely recognized non-trademarked meaning in any language. Windows, App, Apple etc. If a company wants a trademark on a word then make up a new one.

And if someone already is using your trademarked name in another field, all you have to do is promise that you'll never compete with them in the same field. And then when you're powerful enough to litigate your way out of giving your word, problem solved....Pear Computers anyone?

TeamworkGuy2 said:

I do not think they should be able to trademark the name "App Store"

When Windows was founded the word "windows" did not have any technological connotations;

it meant an opening in a building, usually covered by glass.

"App Store" on the other had, has a lot of connotations, even before it is trademarked. It could generate a lot more interest/traffic/profit today, than the word "Windows" could back when it was trademarked.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

marioestrada said:

If "The Container Store" can have its trademark why can't Apple

Because of the word "The". Saying "The" before any noun has the same trademark and English distinction as saying "Apple Container Store". If Apple called it "The App Store", then there would be no problem getting it trademarked. "The" makes "App Store" unique. Which app store? THE app store. This is a longstanding trademark rule.

Any generic term that is used by multiple sources in the same field must be identified this way. That is why Apple was able to name itself as such, because there was no previous computer/electronic usage of the word "Apple". "App" however, has been used in the computer space since the earliest days of computers and is used on nearly all computational devices spanning architectures and operating systems. Apple simply cannot trademark it without giving it a unique identifier as I mentioned previously.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

gwailo247 said:

Pear Computers anyone?

HAHA! Funny you should say that. My daughter watches a show called "I, Carly" and they use the "Pear Phone" and their computers have a pear logo instead of an Apple logo.

"On iCarly, Computers include a series of laptops and desktops. PearBooks, PearPhones and PearPods have been seen numerously throughout the show and have some different features. These computers are said to store many MPEGs (Moving Pictures Expert Group) into a single hard drive and have a mixed software between Apple and Windows."

PearPhone, PearBook, PearPad, PearPod, and the PearTunes music store...nice little rip offs, lol.

aj_the_kidd said:

I don't know, I've gotten use to associating "App Store" with Apple. At times when someone says "app store" i have to pause for a second and think are they talking about apple or android.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

Soon every phone, computer, gps will use apps so NO it's not fair to let them trademark App store

nismo91 said:

obviously APP stands for application. Windows is not too generic, OFFICE is. can you imagine if Microsoft patent Office and other alternatives such as OpenOffice, LibreOffice, StarOffice etc have to rename their products?

foreverzero89 said:

id say that Microsoft is right on this one, as there several "app stores". one for android, windows phone, and iphone os. But back then there was only one "windows".

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

nismo91 said:

obviously APP stands for application. Windows is not too generic, OFFICE is. can you imagine if Microsoft patent Office and other alternatives such as OpenOffice, LibreOffice, StarOffice etc have to rename their products?

But again, it's not trademarked as "Office". It's "Microsoft Office" same as "Microsoft Windows". Like my post above, you need a unique identifier such as "The", "Apple", "Microsoft", etc.

foreverzero89 said:

its like paris hilton when she tried to trademark the phrase "thats hot".

nismo91 said:

But again, it's not trademarked as "Office". It's "Microsoft Office" same as "Microsoft Windows". Like my post above, you need a unique identifier such as "The", "Apple", "Microsoft", etc.

exactly, they can't trademark it as "office" so "app store" shouldn't be allowed either.

Cota Cota said:

Its even on the picture on the post, its says "Microsoft Windows", why do we keep trolling this? Apple should just say "yeah i think we should call it AAPP or something else"

akannitaoheed said:

All the names are generic; apple, windows, app (application) etc, but some more generic than the other. I think Microsoft is right anyway. 'App' is quite too generic to be proprietary to one person or entity.

Guest said:

Hahahahaha even the picture on the post proves them wrong FAIL (: !!!! As for apple's "yo momma reply" they sure did forget to look in the mirror APPLE sounds like WINDOWS to me. (don't criticize if you fail to understand what I meant in the previous sentence.) Apple on the otherhand seriously needs to get a life and get over their -self coined- "control issues".

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