Apple sues Amazon over use of 'App Store' trademark

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple has sued rival Amazon, accusing the online retailer of violating its "App Store" trademark with the competing Amazon Appstore for Android.



The complaint was filed by Apple on March 18 in California, and accuses Amazon of trademark infringement and unfair competition. According to Bloomberg, the Cupertino, Calif., company has asked the court to prevent Amazon from using the "App Store" name.



Apple also seeks unspecified damages in the complaint, which takes aim at the Amazon Appstore for Android. Amazon's digital download destination for Android devices will compete with Google's own official Android Market.



"Amazon has begun improperly using Apple's App Store mark in connection with Amazon's mobile software developer program," Apple's complaint reads. It accuses Amazon of "unlawfully" using the App Store trademark to attract developers to its platform.



U.S. trademark law requires the owner of a trademark to vigorously defend its use. Failure to do so could result in the trademark becoming a generic description synonymous with a service, like a digital online storefront.



Apple says in the complaint that it contacted Amazon three times and requested they cease using the "Amazon Appstore" name, but the iPhone maker claims it did not receive a "substantive response." A spokeswoman for Apple told Bloomberg that Amazon's storefront name will "confuse and mislead customers.



Ownership of the App Store trademark was filed for by Apple shortly after the launch of the original iPhone App Store in July 2008. Since then, the App Store has also expanded to the iPad, and Apple launched the Mac App Store earlier this year.



Apple's rivals have objected to the App Store trademark, as Microsoft filed an objection to the application in January. The Redmond, Wash., software giant has argued that the trademark filing should be rejected because the term 'app store' is generic.



For its part, Apple countered in court by arguing that "App Store" is no more generic than "Windows," the name of Microsoft's ubiquitous operating system. Apple said that Microsoft's efforts to maintain its "Windows" trademark should have made it "well aware" that the term "App Store" is generally associated by the general public with Apple's products.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 86
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,503member
    Amazon better change it to Store Front or whatever because they will lose this case.
  • Reply 2 of 86
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    Amazon better change it to Store Front or whatever because they will lose this case.



    I am not so sure. I think Apple has the much weaker footing here.
  • Reply 3 of 86
    pokepoke Posts: 506member
    "App Store" was not in general use before Apple's App Store.



    In fact, before Apple came along, hardly anyone said "app." Now it's common usage. But Apple popularised it.



    Take a look at this Google Trend data:



    http://www.google.com/trends?q=app%2...n%2C+app+store



    "App" is now a more common search term than "application" and is about equal for news references. You can clearly see this started with the launch of the App Store in 2008.



    So I think Apple has a good case with "App Store."
  • Reply 4 of 86
    nkalunkalu Posts: 315member
    This is going to be interesting.
  • Reply 5 of 86
    hellacoolhellacool Posts: 759member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by poke;


    "App Store" was not in general use before Apple's App Store.



    In fact, before Apple came along, hardly anyone said "app." Now it's common usage. But Apple popularised it.



    Take a look at this Google Trend data:



    http://www.google.com/trends?q=app%2...n%2C+app+store



    "App" is now a more common search term than "application" and is about equal for news references. You can clearly see this started with the launch of the App Store in 2008.



    So I think Apple has a good case with "App Store."



    So? What about gas station, grocery store, used car lot? All of these terms where at one time "not in general use" and coined by an individual or company, then they became common.
  • Reply 6 of 86
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple says in the complaint that it contacted Amazon three times



    Oh come on, that's no excuse: everyone knows you can't get Amazon customer service to respond - even if you DO email them 3 times!
  • Reply 7 of 86
    champchamp Posts: 39member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I am not so sure. I think Apple has the much weaker footing here.



    Please elaborate.
  • Reply 8 of 86
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    Apple should win the case. App is not even a generic English word.
  • Reply 9 of 86
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Champ View Post


    Please elaborate.



    I think Apple?s App Store or iApp Store or Mac App Store would be fine, but simply App Store is too generic to trademark. I think there is evidence that the term predates Apple?s usage, but even if they did popularize it I think that the term has genericized long before they tried to trademark it thus making it impossible to now own.
  • Reply 10 of 86
    I seem to recall "Web App" being in common usage in the early 2000s, so I'm not sure what claim Apple has to the word App.
  • Reply 11 of 86
    hellacoolhellacool Posts: 759member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Champ;


    Please elaborate.



    As I stated above. There are many generic terms that at one time were not generic but over time they have. Gas station, grocery store, used car lot ect....... At one time these terms were coined by a witty individual or company. No one was suing when "Joe's Used Car Lot" opened next to Bob' Used Car Lot.
  • Reply 12 of 86
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hellacool View Post


    So? What about gas station, grocery store, used car lot? All of these terms where at one time "not in general use" and coined by an individual or company, then they became common.



    I don’t think you’ve researched those markets fully. Were those trademarks? If so, the creator of the trademark Gas Station might have had some legal grounds, and if their trademark were properly defended from copycats, the competition might have ended up calling them fuel stores I’m sure Amazon too can come up with another name.



    Here’s one for free out of the goodness of my heart: Amazon Mobile Marketplace. Give it a nice AMM logo with the Amazon arrow underneath.



    The App Store trademark doesn’t seem all that important to me, but I suppose it’s still worth the money to defend it.
  • Reply 13 of 86
    champchamp Posts: 39member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I think Apple?s App Store or iApp Store or Mac App Store would be fine, but simply App Store is too generic to trademark. I think there is evidence that the term predates Apple?s usage, but even if they did popularize it I think that the term has genericized long before they tried to trademark it thus making it impossible to now own.



    Thanks, that makes sense.



    Kind of like going into your favorite eatery and chowing down on some tasty apps.
  • Reply 14 of 86
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I think Apple’s App Store or iApp Store or Mac App Store would be fine, but simply App Store is too generic to trademark. I think there is evidence that the term predates Apple’s usage, but even if they did popularize it I think that the term has genericized long before they tried to trademark it thus making it impossible to now own.



    Could be, and I don’t blame Amazon for trying, since the more they can piggyback off of Apple-generated mindshare, the better for them; but I’m thinking it couldn’t be “genericized” if it wasn’t in widespread use by people, and it surely wasn’t until the iPhone.



    And there are precedents: such as Windows, and, hey... Amazon’s own 1-Click
  • Reply 15 of 86
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,503member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I think Apple?s App Store or iApp Store or Mac App Store would be fine, but simply App Store is too generic to trademark. I think there is evidence that the term predates Apple?s usage, but even if they did popularize it I think that the term has genericized long before they tried to trademark it thus making it impossible to now own.



    If that were the case, Lindows would have never lost their case.
  • Reply 16 of 86
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Drealoth View Post


    I seem to recall "Web App" being in common usage in the early 2000s, so I'm not sure what claim Apple has to the word App.



    I googled web app. The usages are all combination of webapp.
  • Reply 17 of 86
    chabigchabig Posts: 640member
    Another way to view this...if Amazon didn't think the term "App Store" had value, they wouldn't use it.
  • Reply 18 of 86
    Quote:

    For its part, Apple countered in court by arguing that "App Store" is no more generic than "Windows," the name of Microsoft's ubiquitous operating system.



    Anymore than OSX is operating system ten???



    Doesn't appear to be TM though. I could be wrong - it isn't here but this same page says that doesn't mean anything.



    http://www.apple.com/legal/trademark/appletmlist.html



    Not sure why "killer app" isn't brought up - people used the short form of applications for ages.
  • Reply 19 of 86
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    If that were the case, Lindows would have never lost their case.



    They didn't lose their case



    Quote:

    As early as 2002, a court rejected Microsoft's claims, stating that Microsoft had used the term "windows" to describe graphical user interfaces before the product, Windows, was ever released, and that the windowing technique had already been implemented by Xerox and Apple many years before[4]. Microsoft kept seeking retrial, but in February 2004, a judge rejected two of Microsoft's central claims[5]. The judge denied Microsoft's request for a preliminary injunction and raised "serious questions" about Microsoft's trademark. Microsoft feared that a court may define "Windows" as generic and result in the loss of its status as a trademark.



    Microsoft settled by paying $20 million for the Lindows name.



    edit: source



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_v._Lindows
  • Reply 20 of 86
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I think Apple?s App Store or iApp Store or Mac App Store would be fine, but simply App Store is too generic to trademark. I think there is evidence that the term predates Apple?s usage, but even if they did popularize it I think that the term has genericized long before they tried to trademark it thus making it impossible to now own.



    I like your point. To take it a step further...



    Maybe I don't understand trademark law fully, but why would they grant a trademark to a generic term that wouldn't be upheld?



    Second...can't generic terms be trademarked? The Container Store comes to mind.
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