Amazon to Apple: the term "app store" is generic

By on April 26, 2011, 4:01 PM
Last month, Amazon launched its own Android App Store and was promptly sued by Apple for using the term "app store." Amazon has since responded in court, calling Apple's claim to the App Store trademark baseless, and pointing to a statement from Apple CEO Steve Jobs for evidence in its favor.

The Seattle-based online retailer has asked a federal judge in San Francisco to throw out Apple's trademark suit, calling the phrase "app store" generic and not something that Apple can claim for its exclusive use. In the 10-page filing (PDF, via GeekWire), Amazon quotes Jobs, who, when speaking on Apple's quarterly conference call last fall, repeatedly referred to app stores in a generic sense:

So there will be at least four app stores on Android, which customers must search among to find the app they want and developers will need to work with to distribute their apps and get paid. This is going to be a mess for both users and developers. Contrast this with Apple's integrated App Store, which offers users the easiest-to-use largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone.

Microsoft started the legal battle against Apple's trademark of the term app store, and ended up effectively representing all the companies that want to or are already trying to use the phrase. Amazon now appears to be agree with Microsoft's core argument: that "app store" is as generic as "shoe store" or "toy store." As a result, the term should not belong to one company.

Three 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. Apple countered back by reminding Microsoft that it successfully trademarked "Windows" a few decades ago.

Last month, Microsoft filed yet another legal filing against Apple, 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 still in the hands of the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and will hopefully be resolved in the next few months.




User Comments: 19

Got something to say? Post a comment
HiDDeNMisT HiDDeNMisT said:

wow really apple needs to stop

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

Apple isn't going to win.

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

Everyone to Amazon: the 1-click patent is generic.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

marioestrada said:

Everyone to Amazon: the 1-click patent is generic.

That's really the best you can do?

-1

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Wow, lawyers really do have nothing better to do, than justify their ridiculous paydays with a bunch of BS litigation.

Apple Computers and Apple Records should both be really happy that they were were allowed those "generic" trademarks. Did the "apple growers association" ever sue because because of those blatant infringements?

Timonius Timonius said:

this is how 'grown-ups' argue :p lol

Guest said:

Well, the term App Store really didn't get heavily utilized until Apple started using it. And when they started making all of this money selling apps in their App Store, guess what, everybody else started using it too. I think trying to trademark the term is ridiculous but you could see why they'd want to.

Is it any different than Microsoft trademarking "Windows", "Office", "Word", or "Outlook"?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Is it any different than Microsoft trademarking "Windows", "Office", "Word", or "Outlook"?

Why did you conveniently leave, "Apple" off your little list?

this is how 'grown-ups' argue :p lol
Wait, don't tell me, let me guess, you're going to jump in a show us how to do it correctly?

herpaderp said:

The Windows patent makes more sense, after all, it's a line of software products, not a store that sells its namesake. Apple should have just patented "Apple App Store" or "iStore" or something, instead of picking such a generic name for their.....app store.

Guest said:

Ooppss...you're right about "Apple" too. But that's the name of the company so again you could see why there would be some protection there. But in regards to products, that's a different story. If you can't protect at least your company name then we'd be seeing even more stupid lawsuits than there are today.

The problem with any of this is that it's the damn lawyers that end up winning anyway...

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Ooppss...you're right about "Apple" too. But that's the name of the company so again you could see why there would be some protection there. But in regards to products, that's a different story. If you can't protect at least your company name then we'd be seeing even more stupid lawsuits than there are today.

The problem with any of this is that it's the damn lawyers that end up winning anyway...

There exists the possibility of even more frivolous lawsuits than there are now? That's depressing.

Guest said:

No no, this is how grownups with too much money argue... for the purpose of gaining more money?!

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Guest said:

Is it any different than Microsoft trademarking "Windows", "Office", "Word", or "Outlook"?

To correct you, Microsoft didn't trademark Windows, Office, Word, and Outlook. They did, however, trademark Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Outlook. Consumers are the ones who dropped "Microsoft" from in front of the products for the simple fact that we're lazy. Why say "I use Microsoft Word" when you can just say "I use Word."?

Guest said:

And actually Apple stole their name from The Beatles, which owned "Apple Records" and even used the Apple as a logo. Apple Computer sends dividend checks to the Beatles Estate monthly.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

And actually Apple stole their name from The Beatles, which owned "Apple Records" and even used the Apple as a logo. Apple Computer sends dividend checks to the Beatles Estate monthly.
You do know the all the Beatles aren't dead, don't you...?

TekGun TekGun said:

captaincranky said:

You do know the all the Beatles aren't dead, don't you...?

I'm sure Paul and Ringo would like to know why no one told them :p

Just because Apple so say made the term app popular doesn't mean they should get sole use of the term "app store" just stick an i in front like with everything else and be done with it already.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Once again, the comparison between "app store" and "Windows" or even "Apple" being allowed trademarks is irrelevant. Windows, Apple, Office, etc. are all abstracts applied to a specific company or product - they have a variety of possible meanings, sometimes not even closely related to what the name gets tagged onto (like in the case of Apple meaning computers/electronics). But the term "app store" has only one possible meaning, and the phrase is the very definition of the product. That is far too generic to be allowed. Now, if Apple had actually invented the term "app" then they might have a basis for argument of ownership, but they most definitely did not. If Apple wants to trademark "Apple App Store" or "iApp Store" then they have every right, but to claim ownership to the name of an entire economic marketplace model is just asinine...

nismo91 said:

if Microsoft trademarked Office instead of Microsoft Office, then all those suites - EasyOffice, LibreOffice, StarOffice, OpenOffice and so on will be sued in no time. cmon people AppStore is way too generic.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@Captain

I think you love to 'straighten out' iSheeps don't ya?

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.