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Apple hits back in "App Store" trademark row


By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 2 Mar 2011 at 10:29

Apple has hit back at Microsoft in the ongoing legal argument over whether the term App Store is generic or can be trademarked.

Microsoft claimed in arguments to the US Patent and Trademark Office that “App Store” was too widely used for a shop selling apps to be claimed by Apple, which first used the term for its online shop more than two years ago.

Apple, however, has accused Microsoft of stretching the truth with “confused and misleading” arguments, adding that the company that has traded on its “Windows” trademark for years was in no position to argue over “genericness”.

“What it offers... are out-of-context and misleading snippets of material printed by its outside counsel from the internet and allegations regarding how the public allegedly interprets the constituent parts of the term 'App Store',” Apple said in a submission to the patents office.

“Having itself faced a decades-long genericness challenge to its claimed Windows mark, Microsoft should be well aware that the focus in evaluating genericness is on the mark as a whole.”

According to Apple, the fact that software vendors – Android with its Market, RIM with its App World and Microsoft with its Marketplace – are all able to offer stores selling apps without using the “App Store” term shows that there is no need to keep the term open for general use.

Microsoft, however, argues that all these services are merely examples of "app stores".

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User comments

I'm siding with Microsoft here, I don't see how the term 'App Store' can be anything but a generic term for a shop that sells applications for tech.

By skarlock on 2 Mar 2011

The Reality Distortion Field is fading...

I know that this is a dispute in a US court, and so inacessible to normal logic or common-sense, but surely the distinction between "Windows" & "App Store" is quite obvious.

Yes Microsoft did "luck-in" by being allowed to Trademark 'Windows', but only in the specific context of systems software.

Anglian Windows don't pay them a sou, nor get sued for using the Trademarked word.

Prior to MS Windows, historically, I don't recall other OS purveyors using the term generically. Gem didn't do "Windows" it did GUI. Apple's Mac didn't have "Windows" either. And so-on. Their software may have incorporated windows but wasn't labelled as being them.

An "App Store" is however a different kettle of generic poissons.

The universally accepted abbreviation of "Application(s)" is "app(s)", it has no previous application (sic) outside of flogging bits of computer code. Tagging "Store" on the end changes this not one jot.

By all means Apple can call their online extortion racket the "App Store", and prevent others from using that name. But to try and prevent other companies from describing themselves an "app store" is simnply ridiculous.

By wittgenfrog on 2 Mar 2011

App store is generic

Just like corner shop or supermarket. I can't see anyone trade marking them.

By JamesD29 on 2 Mar 2011

And there I was thinking the Apple Store was a green-grocer's...

By c6ten on 2 Mar 2011

Jobs made it generic

At one of his last presentations, he used the term App Store to refer to the stores run by Google and Microsoft, in general terms, so I don't think Apple have much going for them, when their own boss uses the term generically.

By big_D on 2 Mar 2011

US court, and so inacessible to normal logic or common-sense

Although I generally agree with the points made in your posts, could you please refrain from confusing that which is reported in the British press with what actually happens in the U.S. legal system.

Especially when it involves the tabloids, whose main interest seems to be boiling down long & complex arguments into a single headline, then 'shouting' how stupid America is, without explaining why the decision actually came about...

By greemble on 2 Mar 2011

but when did the 'App' first come of age?

I have used PDAs since the late 90's until switching to the iPhone in the late 00's. I installed programs (.prcs) on my Palm PDAs and Treos but they were never refered to specifically, or even in slang, as Apps. Back in those days the SW portals like Handango et all simply didn't refer to the SW they were selling as Apps, something they all do now.

AppStore is a pretty generic term but I really do think it's origins come from Apple and the iPhone.

By Rouleur on 2 Mar 2011

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