Judge says Apple has 'stumbling block' in trademark case against Amazon

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A U.S. District Judge said on Wednesday that she will "probably" deny Apple's trademark infringement request to block Amazon's Appstore for Android because the iPhone maker has yet to produce "real evidence" that customers have confused it with the App Store.



At a hearing in an Oakland federal court on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton remarked that Apple has a "stumbling block" in proving that customers would confuse Apple's App Store with Amazon's Appstore for Android, Reuters reports.



That obstacle is Apple's inability to produce ?real evidence of actual confusion,? the judge said. ?I?m troubled by the showing that you?ve made so far, but that?s where you?re likely not to prevail at this early juncture.? Hamilton has yet to make a final ruling in the case, and plans to reread some of the supporting papers, according to an individual present at the hearing.



In March, Apple sued the online retailer over its use of the App Store trademark. The complaint accused Amazon of "improperly using" the mark for its mobile software developer program and "unlawfully" using it to attract developers to its platform. Apple stated in its filing that it had contacted Amazon three times asking them to cease using the trademark, but had not received a "substantive response."



In spite of the suit, Amazon proceeded with opening its Appstore for Android just days later. The digital download service includes a "Test Drive" feature that allows users to try out an Android application before buying it.







Amazon eventually responded with a filing, claiming the "app store" term is generic and would not cause confusion. Apple has countered the argument with subsequent filings, including one that alleges the Amazon Appstore is "inferior and will tarnish Apple's mark." According to Apple, Amazon's storefront poses a security threat because it offers applications for "rooted" Android devices, which are more vulnerable to security breaches.



Microsoft has even cited Amazon's store in its own objections to the mark. The Windows giant has been the most vocal opponent to the "App Store" trademark, alleging that the term is generic. Apple responded by asserting that if the App Store trademark is generic, so is Microsoft's Windows mark.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    Amazon should realise that there are a lot of people who won't buy anything from Amazon every again if they win this suit.



    It's all so childish. Just think up an original name for cripes sake. Is it that hard?



    The fact that they don't want to think up an original name is pretty much proof of Apple's claim IMO. If they weren't trafficking on the goodwill already established by Apple with the name, then any other name would do just as well. But any other name *wouldn't* do as well, because it doesn't have the same impact as copying Apple's already well-known moniker.
  • Reply 2 of 58
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,763member
    I've always thought of a "stumbling block" as a very specific issue that makes a specific task difficult. The article, however fails to mention anything specific. Did the Judge mention what the stumbling block was or would a more general "up hill climb" been more appropriate?
  • Reply 3 of 58
    joseph ljoseph l Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Microsoft has even cited Amazon's store in its own objections to the mark. The Windows giant has been the most vocal opponent to the "App Store" trademark, alleging that the term is generic. Apple responded by asserting that if the App Store trademark is generic, so is Microsoft's Windows mark.







    IKYABWAI? Classic!
  • Reply 4 of 58
    object-xobject-x Posts: 42member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post


    I've always thought of a "stumbling block" as a very specific issue that makes a specific task difficult. The article, however fails to mention anything specific. Did the Judge mention what the stumbling block was or would a more general "up hill climb" been more appropriate?



    The judge stated she was troubled by Apple's inability to produce evidence that anyone is confused by it; so unless they can produce that evidence she's pretty much told them it's over.
  • Reply 5 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Amazon should realise that there are a lot of people who won't buy anything from Amazon every again if they win this suit.



    And you should realize that your statement is hyperbole and that this will not impact Amazon's online retail sales at all, excepting maybe you.
  • Reply 6 of 58
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Object-X View Post


    The judge stated she was troubled by Apple's inability to produce evidence that anyone is confused by it; so unless they can produce that evidence she's pretty much told them it's over.



    I think that's the problem with having such a generic trademark.



    You couldn't release a Toyota or open a McDonald's store without people being confused with the real product.



    However when the terms "app", "store" and the combination "app store" were all in use before the iOS App Store, it's harder to believe that people will think Amazon is selling apps for iOS.



    Apple should have had the foresight to call it the iStore or something they could really own.



    I do think Amazon are only using "Appstore" because Apple made it popular. I'm not sure how Apple prove that though.
  • Reply 7 of 58
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    The fact that they don't want to think up an original name is pretty much proof of Apple's claim IMO.



    Imagine Apple produced a softdrink called Apple-Joos, lets imagine it's a very sour apple flavour and that it became enormously popular. Then imagine Amazon decided to get in on the act and created a rival brand - Apple-Zon, with a very similar flavour.



    'Foul' cry Apple, 'you've stolen our TM'. 'It's all fair' cry Amazon, 'in this context Apple is a generic because it's the flavour.'. This hypothetical is actually pretty much what happened to Coca-Cola.



    Anyway, because 'Apple' is a generic when applied to flavour it's entirely reasonable for our hypothetical beverage copy-cat to want to use it, because they want their product to be associated with the flavour, not the competitor. Even if they secretly do want it to be associated with the competitor, it doesn't matter if it's a generic.



    This is Amazon's argument in a (kola)-nutshell. That there is no harm because there will be no confusion, and that the reason that their name happens to be so similar to Apple's name is because the term has become a generic and not because they're hoping for a bit of confusion.



    Honestly I think they're lying through their teeth, but it's far from a slam dunk for Apple.
  • Reply 8 of 58
    A HINT of what Apple can do to further the case against Amazon (*successfully*) is darn good news to me.



    In the meantime I will close my account with Amazon and will advise my family and friends to do the same.
  • Reply 9 of 58
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    Who is this "they" you are referring to? Apple is an "it." For instance, you could properly write, "unless it can produce that evidence she pretty much told Apple it is over." A company is a singular entity not a plural one.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Object-X View Post


    The judge stated she was troubled by Apple's inability to produce evidence that anyone is confused by it; so unless they can produce that evidence she's pretty much told them it's over.



  • Reply 10 of 58
    hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Amazon should realise that there are a lot of people who won't buy anything from Amazon every again if they win this suit.



    It's all so childish. Just think up an original name for cripes sake. Is it that hard?



    The fact that they don't want to think up an original name is pretty much proof of Apple's claim IMO. If they weren't trafficking on the goodwill already established by Apple with the name, then any other name would do just as well. But any other name *wouldn't* do as well, because it doesn't have the same impact as copying Apple's already well-known moniker.



    I don't think a substantial number of people even know that this lawsuit exists, let alone are they picking sides,



    The VAST majority of people (read: non tech site message board people like us) don't follow this stuff remotely close enough to care. They just want to be able to go and get Angry Birds and Doodle Jump for their phones, regardless if it's from Apple's App Store or Amazon's.



    Personally, if I had an Android phone, I would much rather prefer to go through Amazon's store than Google's, since I know Amazon is curating their store.
  • Reply 11 of 58
    Me too. Have her call me. I am confused.]
  • Reply 12 of 58
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post


    Personally, if I had an Android phone, I would much rather prefer to go through Amazon's store than Google's, since I know Amazon is curating their store.



    Given that they're not even adequately curating their book store, it's hard to believe they'll do a much better job with programs.



    http://www.salon.com/books/amazon/in...06/21/spamazon
  • Reply 13 of 58
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post


    However when the terms "app", "store" and the combination "app store" were all in use before the iOS App Store, it's harder to believe that people will think Amazon is selling apps for iOS.



    I haven't actually seen a mass market case of something called an 'App Store' before Apple did, so the phrase probably wasn't a generic when they first coined it - any more than 'Rollerblade' is. It was just a good descriptive brand.



    Unfortunately for Apple the term genericized at lightning speed, and even Steve Jobs kinda used it as a generic when he spoke of Lion users getting 'a mac app store'. That indefinite article could end up being very expensive.
  • Reply 14 of 58
    frugalityfrugality Posts: 410member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post


    Unfortunately for Apple the term genericized at lightning speed,...



    The term 'app' wasn't coined by Apple. It was in use before Apple. Apple did make it popular with the popularity of iOS devices, but that doens't make it trademark-able by Apple.



    Back in the day......computers ran programs.



    Today......devices run apps.



    It's generic.
  • Reply 15 of 58
    Apple made it popular even though it is as generic as a ridge cut potatoes. The tech media and business should at least acknowledge that by mentioning the company name in full when describing theirs and others. If Apple case is dismissed due to the lack of evidence perhaps somebody should monitor Amazon's app store regardless of any concerns of privacy so to gather evidence.



    If all fail, the attempt to get evidence or the case then I suppose anybody out there with similar position in the future should watch their back lest Apple decided to hijack theirs. Mind, if anything, with the current rate only Apple could make generic term distinctive.



    BTW, this would have implication to the Mac App Store as well and Amazon (perhaps some other site as well) also sell this (software download).
  • Reply 16 of 58
    buzzmegabuzzmega Posts: 66member
    I thought you could get App-le Apps at Amazon's App store. And get the Amazon generic best deal. But no.
  • Reply 17 of 58
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,417member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Amazon should realise that there are a lot of people who won't buy anything from Amazon every again if they win this suit.



    It's all so childish. Just think up an original name for cripes sake. Is it that hard?



    You'll take some flak for the slightly exaggerated way in which you're making your point, but fundamentally, you're spot on (so screw them): Amazon signals great weakness and a basic lack of creativity by naming their store as they did.



    It's truly childish on their part.
  • Reply 18 of 58
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by frugality View Post


    The term 'app' wasn't coined by Apple. It was in use before Apple. Apple did make it popular with the popularity of iOS devices, but that doens't make it trademark-able by Apple.



    Back in the day......computers ran programs.



    Today......devices run apps.



    It's generic.



    You misunderstand, App was generic, there's no dispute, but App Store wasn't. Combining two generic words doesn't produce a generic word - cheesecake and factory are both generic, but 'Cheesecake Factory' isn't. In order for App Store to have been a generic there would have to be large numbers of references were people used the phrase in a generic fashion. Those references may exist now, but they didn't exist back in 2008.
  • Reply 19 of 58
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Splash-reverse View Post


    BTW, this would have implication to the Mac App Store as well and Amazon (perhaps some other site as well) also sell this (software download).



    Interestingly Amazon don't call their Mac software store Amazon Mac Appstore, they call it Amazon Mac Download Store. Presumably because in that instance they couldn't claim that there was no confusion.
  • Reply 20 of 58
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,578member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Amazon should realise that there are a lot of people who won't buy anything from Amazon every again if they win this suit.



    Exaggerate much? What percentage of Amazon customers even know this suit is going on? I bet it's less than 5%
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