Microsoft uses Amazon to tell Apple again: App Store is too generic

By on March 30, 2011, 9:00 AM
Microsoft is no longer waging the battle against Apple's trademark of App Store just for itself, but is effectively representing all the companies that want to or are already trying to use the term "app store." Most recently, Amazon launched its own Android App Store and was promptly sued by Apple.

As such, Microsoft has filed yet another legal filing citing Amazon's new store as evidence that other companies need to be able to use the phrase to accurately describe their mobile application marketplaces. The issue is now in the hands of the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and will hopefully be resolved in the next few months.

Apple's bid for exclusive rights to the term is "at odds with the growing list of competitors using 'App Store' in their names and 'app store' to describe their stores, including the Amazon Appstore, launched March 22, 2011, by Amazon.com, Inc., the world's largest online retailer," Microsoft argues in the 13-page filing (PDF, courtesy of GeekWire). "These uses, despite Apple's continuing enforcement campaign, show beyond dispute that there is a competitive need for the term."

Microsoft's core argument is that "App Store" is as generic as "shoe store" or "toy store." As a result, the term should not belong to one company. The latest filing reiterates the software giant's position:

Apple strains to keep "App Store" for its exclusive use, even claiming that its online stores are not real stores, only metaphorical ones. But Apple cannot escape the hard truth: when people talk about competitors' stores, they call them "app stores." You don't have to look far to find this generic use The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and even Apple's CEO Steve Jobs. And generic use of "app store" is not obscure or occasional as Apple would have us believe. It is prominent, ongoing and, by Apple's own measure, hundreds of times more frequent than the thin generic use in the cases upon which Apple relies.

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. Earlier this month, Apple countered back by reminding Microsoft that it successfully trademarked "Windows" a few decades ago.

Putting away your opinion of Microsoft and Apple, which side of the argument are you on?




User Comments: 23

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mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

Poor Microsoft, Apple will get its trademark and they will be the only ones left crying.

Of course, they can always call their store Mobile Programs Store for Windows Phone 7 Series Professional Edition On The Go and stick some shiny stickers on the back of their phones.

Guest said:

And windows is not generic?

Guest said:

"Microsoft Windows"...

"Microsoft Office"...

So no..it's not...

Guest said:

MS haven't sued window cleaners.. Apple probably would.

mtbdude641 said:

i believe that the term app store should not belong to just apple, yes the term windows is copyrighted because thats what it is . when you hear windows you know your talking about the microsoft operating system, and no other companies use this term for their operating system and is not generic but app store is too generic for them alone to claim for themselves

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

And windows is not generic?

Apples and oranges (pun intended)... Windows is the name of an operating system, but is a generic term that means more than just that operating system. It's an abstract applied to a specific product. Same with Apple, it's an abstract (fruit) applied to the name of a company.

Whereas "app store" is a targeted and unmistakable description of a specific business model, which is not exclusive to Apple. There is nothing abstract about it, nor is there anything exclusive to Apple. It would be akin to Microsoft being able to trademark "operating system" and allowing no other competitor to use that pairing of words to describe their product.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

marioestrada said:

Poor Microsoft, Apple will have get its trademark and they will be the only ones left crying.

Of course, they can always call their store Mobile Programs Store for Windows Phone 7 Series Professional Edition On The Go and stick some shiny stickers on the back of their phones.

That was so unintelligible that I feel dumber for having read it.

Before we rehash this topic yet another time, let's lay out what's been pointed out already.

1. "App Store" is generic due to it's lack of specificity as to which "app store" it is and needs an identifier such as "The" or "Apple".

2. It isn't "Windows". It's "Microsoft Windows", which observes point #1.

3. "Apple" isn't a generic name for an electronics company whereas it would be for a grocer.

4. The Trademark Office is questionably qualified for the task.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

A way to think of it, Windows refers to a specific operating system, rather than being a generic term for all operating systems, while App Store usually refers to any storefront or service that offers "apps" for computers and/or phones.

It's sorta like, as an exaggeration, if walmart wanted to trademark and bar the use of the term "supermarket" (in an alternate universe where Walmart was the first to use the term).

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I think Vrmithrax's explanation is as clear as it can get. If you can't understand it from that then I don't think there's any changing your mind.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

This Guest guy keeps posting that the name Windows is generic.

You think he would have learned after a 100 such posts and rebuttals.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

I say get rid of the legal crap and have Balmer and Jobs fight to the death for it if the "Apps" name is so important.

In other words, This is just one great big waste of time and resources on both companies parts.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Considering Jobs purported health issues, Balmer may have an advantage that Jobs will be sure to point out prior. XD

As for whose time and resources are being waste, neither. Apple sees "App Store" as part of the Apple identity when it comes to their mobile market (iPod/iPhone/iPad) and want's to protect that, though I question how successful that will be. On the flipside, Microsoft is doing it out of principle, as well as making sure that if they ever want to use "App Store" in the future, they will be able to without Apple suing them.

Guest said:

I think in Apple's point of view, "App" stands for both application and Apple.

Since Microsoft's use of the word only stands for applications, instead of using the first 3 letters, they should try using the first 4 letters. Making it the "Appl Store" and see what Apple says about that.

Cota Cota said:

darkshadoe said:

I say get rid of the legal crap and have Balmer and Jobs fight to the death for it if the "Apps" name is so important.

In other words, This is just one great big waste of time and resources on both companies parts.

Now thats something that i would pay to watch, but not likely to happen.

Still Apple needs to get that name fixed, remember that disk technology that was born dead? they call it "blu" to avoid that generic name and so Apple should since they seem to decide whats right and whats wrong, im rite Amazon?, we all know that in some of their products Apple is just a sweet mouth to get their ideas as the correct ones.

Guest said:

Wow, you are a genius Guest. That would truly be incredible to see Microsoft using "Appl Store" to describe their application store.

Apple <---- You Two, Fight to the Death! ----> Microsoft

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I am having deja vu. Apple should lose this one. Apps are not exclusive to Apple and other companies sell apps. It is stupid they should have to use a different name. If someone googles "app store" they should get results for different companies, not just apple.

Guest said:

Very well said.

supportme said:

marioestrada said:

Poor Microsoft, Apple will get its trademark and they will be the only ones left crying.

Of course, they can always call their store Mobile Programs Store for Windows Phone 7 Series Professional Edition On The Go and stick some shiny stickers on the back of their phones.

This is the most unintelligent and dumbest comment I have ever read....

RaiDeR55 said:

Apple should Call the app store Apple iApp iStore..Then there would be no problem with trade marking that name.But as others stated above.. App store name to generic.

lipe123 said:

Guest said:

MS haven't sued window cleaners.. Apple probably would.

Exactly! Ms does in fact own just the word "windows" as trademark but they don't go suing every person alive because they have windows in their houses. The have stipulations that the word windows has to be used in reference to their OS.

Apple is just being a 2year old trying to shift blame to others who isn't doing anything wrong. All they need to do is change their damn trademark to "Apple app store" instead of just "app store" but nuuuuuuuu they need to be assholes about it.

Ms Trademark info: [link]

krayzie said:

i want to make a physical "app store" and call it "App Store" and sell software and see what apple does

Guest said:

App Store

Application Store

Why are they trademarking this

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I literally laughed out loud with the Appl Store remark - good one... very good one.

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