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Apple fires back at Amazon in continuing 'App Store' name dispute

post #1 of 58
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Apple has responded to Amazon in court, as the company continues to defend its trademark of the words "App Store," and hopes to have a court prevent Amazon from using the name "appstore" for its Android application storefront.

Apple filed a new statement in a federal Court in Oakland, Calif., in which it denied Amazon's claim that the term "App Store" is generic, according to Bloomberg. Apple has filed a trademark infringement suit against Amazon for its Appstore for Android.

"Apple denies that, based on their common meaning, the words 'app store' together denote a store for apps," Apple's filing reads. It also argues that the term isn't commonly used by businesses to describe download services, and asserts that the term "app store" is not generic.

Apple filed its original suit against Amazon in March, a day before the online retailer's Amazon Appstore launched. In April, Amazon responded, and argued that the term "app store" is generic, and should be free for anyone to use. The latest filing by Apple served as an attempt to refute Amazon's claims.

The back-and-forth situation is playing out similar to Apple's dispute with Microsoft, though no lawsuit has been filed between those two companies. Instead, in January, Microsoft filed an objection to Apple's "App Store" trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Like Amazon, Microsoft believes that the term "app store" is too generic to be fairly registered with the USPTO. Apple originally filed for the trademark shortly after the launch of the iPhone App Store in 2008, and U.S. law requires trademark owners to aggressively defend their marks, or risk losing them.



Microsoft even cited Amazon's Appstore for Android in a later complaint. It argued that Amazon's digital storefront served as proof of a "competitive need" for generic use of the term.

For its part, Apple fired back at Microsoft in legal filings, and argued that the term "App Store" is no more generic than Microsoft's ownership of the name "Windows." The iPhone maker noted that Microsoft has "faced a decades-long genericness challenge to its claimed WINDOWS mark" that should make the Redmond, Wash., software giant "well aware" that genericness is based on how a term applies 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," Apple's filing reads.
post #2 of 58
Didn't Amazon patent "One Click" or something like that? That's pretty generic. It's just a first mover advantage that you get the generic name. I don't think people are so stupid they can't tell what store they're at.
post #3 of 58
I completely agree with APPLE. "APP Store" is NOT generic. However "application store" IS generic. Why doesn't Amazon call their store, Amazon Application Store? Because they WANT their store to be perceived similiar to Apple's App Store.
post #4 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Didn't Amazon patent "One Click" or something like that? That's pretty generic. It's just a first mover advantage that you get the generic name. I don't think people are so stupid they can't tell what store they're at.

Ironically, Apple licenses the "One-Click" to buy button technology from Amazon.
post #5 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony411LA View Post

I completely agree with APPLE. "APP Store" is NOT generic. However "application store" IS generic. Why doesn't Amazon call their store, Amazon Application Store? Because they WANT their store to be perceived similiar to Apple's App Store.

Because Amazon knows that people associate App Store name with Apple and have positive thoughts when they see the word. Simple psychology, and sneakiness.
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post #6 of 58
1) Jobs has already used app store in a generic way many times.

2) Amazon Appstore for Android can not be confused with App Store.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Didn't Amazon patent "One Click" or something like that? That's pretty generic. It's just a first mover advantage that you get the generic name. I don't think people are so stupid they can't tell what store they're at.

I think what Apple and others license is the patent of the 1-Click system.
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post #7 of 58
This whole thing really isn't about the term "app store" with Amazon. It is about Amazon getting free advertisement. If they win that is just gravy. They get their name in the papers and all over the web with people arguing about this. They aren't going to loose many if any customers over it because the people that are fighting them are usually apple fan that have already picked a side that doesn't include them anyway and they potentially gain a lot from the free exposure that this gives them. They want to make a "slash" which is the same reason they tried to beat everyone to the punch with a music cloud service.
post #8 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by EDemerzel View Post

This whole thing really isn't about the term "app store" with Amazon. It is about Amazon getting free advertisement.

That's an interesting idea, yes I guess their biggest challenge at the moment would be getting people to realise there *are* actually other application stores, since Apple is so dominant.
post #9 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Apple denies that, based on their common meaning, the words 'app store' together denote a store for apps," Apple's filing reads.

If the words 'app store' together don't denote a store for apps, then what do they denote?
I'm sorry, but this nit is beyond my capacity to pick.
post #10 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

If the words 'app store' together don't denote a store for apps, then what do they denote?
I'm sorry, but this nit is beyond my capacity to pick.

You beat me to it. I don't know how anyone could write the sentence with a straight face. "We deny that based on their common meaning the words 'X Y' together denote an X for Y."

Apple's claim is "we coined the term app store; we used it first; we trademarked it, so suck it." I can see the advantage Apple has if they can prevent anyone else from using that term, but their current defense just makes them look silly.
post #11 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

You beat me to it. I don't know how anyone could write the sentence with a straight face. "We deny that based on their common meaning the words 'X Y' together denote an X for Y."

Apple's claim is "we coined the term app store; we used it first; we trademarked it, so suck it." I can see the advantage Apple has if they can prevent anyone else from using that term, but their current defense just makes them look silly.

Maybe it is the difference between a denotation and a connotation. I don't know which, if either, is relevant in a trademark dispute.
post #12 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

If the words 'app store' together don't denote a store for apps, then what do they denote?
I'm sorry, but this nit is beyond my capacity to pick.

Was "app" in common usage until recent years when Apple made it popular?

I know Windows uses "Program" everywhere, e.g. c : \\ Program Files. And Application is a long-standing term for a computer program. But the shortening "App" - was that Apple just using an existing abbreviation, or did they deliberately shorten the word application, to make something unique to them and something they could trademark?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but shortening generic English words to make product names is not uncommon. And then society starts using that trademark as a general concept (e.g. Xerox), forgetting that it was an invention. Could that be what they are complaining about.
post #13 of 58
I am of the feeling you can't patent or copywrite the Application Store or App Store for the same reason you can't copywrite the term. "Car Dealership" or "Software Company" or anything else like that.
post #14 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Was "app" in common usage until recent years when Apple made it popular?

I know Windows uses "Program" everywhere, e.g. c : \\ Program Files. And Application is a long-standing term for a computer program. But the shortening "App" - was that Apple just using an existing abbreviation, or did they deliberately shorten the word application, to make something unique to them and something they could trademark?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but shortening generic English words to make product names is not uncommon. And then society starts using that trademark as a general concept (e.g. Xerox), forgetting that it was an invention. Could that be what they are complaining about.

Apple’s case can’t be about the word ‘app’ because that’s very old. Perhaps even predating NeXT’s clear and constant usage.

The earliest I can find is “killer app” from a 1989 periodical on Google Books but I’d wager it goes back another decade.

http://books.google.com/books?id=gFV...=0CDEQ6AEwADgK
edit1: Dictionary.com states the origin of ’killer app’ is between 1985 and 1990. Not exactly the OED.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/killer+app
edit2: Etymology Online states the sole us of ‘app’ is attested to 1992 but they don’t cite any sources.

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=app
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post #15 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Was "app" in common usage until recent years when Apple made it popular?

I know Windows uses "Program" everywhere, e.g. c : \\ Program Files. And Application is a long-standing term for a computer program. But the shortening "App" - was that Apple just using an existing abbreviation, or did they deliberately shorten the word application, to make something unique to them and something they could trademark?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but shortening generic English words to make product names is not uncommon. And then society starts using that trademark as a general concept (e.g. Xerox), forgetting that it was an invention. Could that be what they are complaining about.

You are probably correct in your statement of the basis of Apple's complaint. I wish their filing had stated it more like you did, rather than the bafflingly unclear and unpersuasive manner they did.

(As an aside, we always read about how Steve Jobs micromanages almost everything that goes on at Apple. I don't believe that someone who communicates as succinctly as Jobs would have ever approved the wording of that filing. He must be delegating more, during his medical leave.)
post #16 of 58
so tired of these businesses that supposedly have lots of 'smart' people working for them yet they can't come up with an original name for this? i say apple should get App Store and tough nugget to the others. i love the name 'Android Market' and when one speaks of it you know exactly what is being talked about. same with App Store = Apple.
post #17 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

edit1: Dictionary.com states the origin of ’killer app’ is between 1985 and 1990. Not exactly the OED.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/killer+app

Yep, I don't doubt the term is very old, because it's an obvious abbreviation in some ways. But has it mainly been in tech circles? I travel in tech circles, and "killer app" has been around for years. But it just seems like what's different these days is everyone is using it, not just techies, and in that sense Apple invented the word, if widespread usage is the criteria for invention. But what is the criteria for invention of a word?

Does OED take in to account widespread adoption when deciding what to add to the dictionary every year? Because just sitting here I can make a new word "happelview" and in theory I could claim I just invented it, but a pretty meaningless claim. What is the adoption threshold and did Apple cause it to cross that.
post #18 of 58
And they have enough money to throw around, and play with Apple for awhile. All the time, getting great FREE press.

Some would say "What's in a new"?

Skip
post #19 of 58
Exactly. Most people thought that patent was BS. Apple for one obtained a license from Amazon, which helped Amazon make its case in enforcing the BS patent.

Apple made the concept of an app store popular. Most people will think of Apple when they hear "App store." As such, Apple should get the Trademark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Didn't Amazon patent "One Click" or something like that? That's pretty generic. It's just a first mover advantage that you get the generic name. I don't think people are so stupid they can't tell what store they're at.
post #20 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Yep, I don't doubt the term is very old, because it's an obvious abbreviation in some ways. But has it mainly been in tech circles? I travel in tech circles, and "killer app" has been around for years. But it just seems like what's different these days is everyone is using it, not just techies, and in that sense Apple invented the word, if widespread usage is the criteria for invention. But what is the criteria for invention of a word?

Invention doesnt need to be widespread. Like a patent, it can unknown but if you are considered the originator and owner its yours. Trademarks are a different beast altogether and have to be protected constantly. That can also include protecting it from being genericized which is something I think could hurt Apples position since Jobs has used the term app store in a general sense more than once.

Quote:
Does OED take in to account widespread adoption when deciding what to add to the dictionary every year? Because just sitting here I can make a new word "happelview" and in theory I could claim I just invented it, but a pretty meaningless claim. What is the adoption threshold and did Apple cause it to cross that.

Usage is a factor when adding new words.

Also, I no longer maintain my OED account so I cant check to see if they have an entry for app'
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post #21 of 58
What matters the most is what consumers think of when they hear the term App Store. If it is Apple, Apple should get the trademark as the whole purpose of a trademark is for a brand to be identified amongst consumers.

For somebody to get a Trademark, it isn't necessary that they were the first to use the mark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Was "app" in common usage until recent years when Apple made it popular?

I know Windows uses "Program" everywhere, e.g. c : \\ Program Files. And Application is a long-standing term for a computer program. But the shortening "App" - was that Apple just using an existing abbreviation, or did they deliberately shorten the word application, to make something unique to them and something they could trademark?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but shortening generic English words to make product names is not uncommon. And then society starts using that trademark as a general concept (e.g. Xerox), forgetting that it was an invention. Could that be what they are complaining about.
post #22 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Yep, I don't doubt the term is very old, because it's an obvious abbreviation in some ways. But has it mainly been in tech circles? I travel in tech circles, and "killer app" has been around for years. But it just seems like what's different these days is everyone is using it, not just techies, and in that sense Apple invented the word, if widespread usage is the criteria for invention. But what is the criteria for invention of a word?

Does OED take in to account widespread adoption when deciding what to add to the dictionary every year? Because just sitting here I can make a new word "happelview" and in theory I could claim I just invented it, but a pretty meaningless claim. What is the adoption threshold and did Apple cause it to cross that.

application software vs system software in name goes back to the 60's. i imagine people saying 'apps' or 'app' was common but in print it was really picked up in the 80's and usually referred to software that ran on the Mac. just claiming 'app' would be tough i think, but App Store should hold up for Apple.
post #23 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Exactly. Most people thought that patent was BS. Apple for one obtained a license from Amazon, which helped Amazon make its case in enforcing the BS patent.

Apple made the concept of an app store popular. Most people will think of Apple when they hear "App store." As such, Apple should get the Trademark.

Youre flipping between patent and trademark. These dont work the same way and arent defined the same so I doubt they are defended in the way.

PS: I personally dont care who wins or what their stores are called. Ill still use the one that suits my needs best. My comments on this subject are an attempt to be as objective as I can from the evidence Ive been presented along with many years of watching Law & Order and reading John Grisham novels.
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post #24 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Apples case cant be about the word app because thats very old. Perhaps even predating NeXTs clear and constant usage.

The earliest I can find is killer app from a 1989 periodical on Google Books but Id wager it goes back another decade.
http://books.google.com/books?id=gFV...=0CDEQ6AEwADgK
edit1: Dictionary.com states the origin of killer app is between 1985 and 1990. Not exactly the OED.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/killer+app
edit2: Etymology Online states the sole us of app is attested to 1992 but they dont cite any sources.
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=app

NeXT was using app since it's inception in 1985. Killer App goes back to Apple with Steve. The app wrapper goes back that far.
post #25 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Killer App goes back to Apple with Steve.

That's a good piece of insider knowledge there. You should tell dictionary writers before it is lost.
post #26 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

2) Amazon Appstore for Android can not be confused with App Store.

That's the same as saying that a hypothetical "Apple Windows for Mac" couldn't be confused with "Microsoft Windows".

The issues are the following:
1) Who created the value associated with App Store? ...Apple
2) Who has the trademark? ...Apple
3) Is it a generic term? ...Iffy. In my opinion, it's not generic because "app" isn't a word; it's slang. I wouldn't even call it an abbreviation; it's more of a slang abbreviation. The real generic term would be "application store". Also, the App Store doesn't just "sell apps". It's also a maintenance/update/management system. That feature alone makes the term "App Store" 'not merely descriptive' as trademark rules require..

The goal of a trademark is to protect a company's trade value. If Amazon is piggy-backing off of Apple's trade value, then they should be stopped and forced to come up with their own brand identity.
post #27 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by illimiter View Post

That's the same as saying that a hypothetical "Apple Windows for Mac" couldn't be confused with "Microsoft Windows".

The issues are the following:
1) Who created the value associated with App Store? ...Apple
2) Who has the trademark? ...Apple
3) Is it a generic term? ...Iffy. In my opinion, it's not generic because "app" isn't a word; it's slang. I wouldn't even call it an abbreviation; it's more of a slang abbreviation. Also, the App Store doesn't just sell "apps". It's also a maintenance/update/management system. That feature alone makes the term "App Store" 'not merely descriptive' as trademark rules require..

The goal of a trademark is to protect a company's trade value. If Amazon is piggy-backing off of Apple's trade value, then they should be stopped and forced to come up with their own brand identity.

I dont disagree with anything youve stated and think its one of the best arguments in Apples defense Ive read. Ive also read good arguments for the defendants so I dont think its an open/shut case. I think Jobs using it generically could hurt the argument succinctly made.
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post #28 of 58
Apple doesn't have a leg to stand on here when even Steve Jobs uses "app store" in a generic way:

Quote:
"In addition to Google's own app marketplace, Amazon, Verizon and Vodafone have all announced that they are creating their own app stores for Android. 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."

Steve Jobs, 18 October 2010

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2307...all-transcript
post #29 of 58
In the old days, "computers" ran "programs."

Today, "devices" run "apps."

It's generic, and not tied to any one manufacturer, despite the fact that Apple got a big head-start in the mobile device category.
post #30 of 58
I support Apple completely. Apple does a lot of proper planning for their projects before pushing them to the market. Others just follow Apple in order to compete with them.
I just don't understand how others can copy technology down to the name and claim it is a generic name. Think different and then compete with your original ideas.
post #31 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkalu View Post

I support Apple completely. Apple does a lot of proper planning for their projects before pushing them to the market. Others just follow Apple in order to compete with them.
I just don't understand how others can copy technology down to the name and claim it is a generic name. Think different and then compete with your original ideas.

The dispute is about a trademark, it has nothing to do with the quality of the product.
post #32 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Apple doesn't have a leg to stand on here when even Steve Jobs uses "app store" in a generic way:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2307...all-transcript

The problem with your argument is that trademarks don't preclude you from using the same words in casual conversations. The point of a trademark is to preclude you from using that mark in trade literature/imagery.
post #33 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by illimiter View Post

The problem with your argument is that trademarks don't preclude you from using the same words in casual conversations. The point of a trademark is to preclude you from using that mark in trade literature/imagery.

To me this isn't a "casual conversation" though - Jobs is addressing shareholders as part of a formal meeting where he is representing the company.
post #34 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

1) Jobs has already used app store in a generic way many times.

Sure that's legally permissible in court? I kinda doubt it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

2) Amazon Appstore for Android can not be confused with App Store.

So, I can open a fast food chain and call it Burgerking? There's no way anyone would confuse it with Burger King, right?
post #35 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Apple doesn't have a leg to stand on here when even Steve Jobs uses "app store" in a generic way

Re-read that sentence and imagine that Jobs is actually saying App Store instead of app store. What's the difference? Let's imagine the CEO of Wal-Mart says this: "Our competitors have all announced that they are creating their own Wal-Marts. So there will be at least four Wal-Marts..."

Get it? Just because he used the term, doesn't automatically mean it was generic. He could have been using their own trademark to refer to what the competition was planning to do (i.e., copy their approach.)
post #36 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by frugality View Post

In the old days, "computers" ran "programs."

Today, "devices" run "apps."

I did a search for some old forums and it seems that people referred to Palm software as apps as far back as 2001:

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=575908
http://www.pdastreet.com/forums/showthread.php?t=27060
http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthr...alm-ToDo-App!&

Here's one referring to a Palm app store in 2003:

http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthr...OS-for-my-Clie

"Meteor has a desktop component as well as the PalmOS version. Search on either name for details at your favorite Palm app store."

Apple can still trademark names or phrases that have been used in a generic way though. Donald Trump tried to trademark "you're fired", which is surely a frequently used and generic phrase and was rejected not on genericity but due to a conflict with the already trademarked phrase "you're hired", which is also generic and widely used:

http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlf...red.-shot-down

Lawyers will debate this to the most ridiculous lengths and reach a conclusion of some sort. Here is an example of Bill Gates involved in the web browser court case debating the definitions of various terms, see if you can make it past the first 5 minutes of tedium:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...6940752241012#
post #37 of 58
A few years ago, Despair, Inc. threatened legal action against anyone who used a "frownie" :-(, as that was their company logo.
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post #38 of 58
The first time I recall hearing the word"app" apart from "killer app", which was more of a conceptual term was when Steve introduced the original iPhone. As I think was Apple's intention, I immediately made a distinction between an "application"for Mac OS X-based computers, and "app"for iOS-based devices; i.e. Photoshop is an "application" and Angry Birds is an "app".

I understand why Apple is rigorously defending their "App Store" nameit's about brand identity: Apple wants anyone who says or hears "App Store" to think of Apple/iOS devices. In other words, they're not doing it just to be d*cks. There's a method to their madness.
BUT, I think Apple hurt their case when they went to calling everything "apps". Now even Pages, Numbers, Aperture and FCP are "apps". "Applications", it seems, no longer exist. They "generic-ized" their own term*

*By "their own term" I mean to say that they've made it part of the Apple lexicon.
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post #39 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by inkswamp View Post

Sure that's legally permissible in court? I kinda doubt it.



So, I can open a fast food chain and call it Burgerking? There's no way anyone would confuse it with Burger King, right?

What might be Amazon's saving grace is that it is not in direct competition with Apple, meaning that no one with a iOS device will ever come across its "app store". Your example for burgerking is somewhat flawed since customers will come across both. A more fitting example would be if you decided to open burgerstore where there aren't any Burger Stores.
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post #40 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by frugality View Post

In the old days, "computers" ran "programs."

Today, "devices" run "apps."

It's generic, and not tied to any one manufacturer, despite the fact that Apple got a big head-start in the mobile device category.

But this isn't about today. It's about when Apple applied for the trademark, and 'app', and particularly 'app store' weren't widely or generically used back then. Microsoft and Amazon are trying to argue that, (very) recently (and apparently in an attempt to stop Apple from getting a trademark), they and others have begun to use 'app store' generically, essentially arguing that if one can muddy the waters enough after a trademark is applied for and before it's granted or before the applicant has a chance to defend it that it should not be granted.

This would be like Nike opening a 'jock store' line of retail shops for selling apparel and equipment to serious athletes, applying for the trademark, and then having Walmart (the brick and mortar counterpart of Amazon) ask that the trademark be denied simultaneously with opening a section in their stores called the 'walmart jock store'. it's pathetic and ridiculous.

If they are successful in blocking Apple's application for this trademark, expect to see all sorts of shenanigans where, as soon as a trademark is applied for, competitors start using the term like crazy just to prevent it being granted. The PTO should definitely grant this trademark, both because 'app store' is not, and was not at the time of application, a generic term, despite the very recent efforts of competitors to try to turn it into one, and to send a message that this type of 'poaching' after an application won't be accepted.
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