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Apple and Microsoft square off regarding the "App Store" trademark

Posted: , by Ken N.

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Apple and Microsoft square off regarding the
In a constant battle to retain their trademarked property, companies like Apple and Microsoft must prove the uniqueness of their trademarks, in order to retain exclusivity. Microsoft has been attempting to quash the trademark on Apple's "App Store" moniker, arguing that it is too generic to describe a protected property.

Apple is appealing to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, saying that Microsoft is "missing the forest for the trees." By that, Apple means to say that Microsoft is ignoring the fact that Apple's App Store is generally understood as a proper noun. If their own "App Store" moniker is unworthy of trademark, then Microsoft's "Windows" is equally so.

To give the following excerpt some context, we should tell you that "genericness" is the extent to which a trademark applies to the general nature of the product, making a "generic" trademark less valid: "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 and requires a fact-intensive assessment of the primary significance of the term to a substantial majority of the relevant public," said Apple.

That wordy legalese argument just means that a trademark can only be deemed overly generic if the public predominantly believes that the potential trademark refers to a general type of product. Apple cites the testimony of a linguistics expert, who says that "the predominant usage of the term APP STORE is as a proper noun to refer to Apple's online application marketplace."

In a previous filing, Microsoft keenly pointed out that Apple's own Steve Jobs has used the term "app store" to refer to other OS' marketplaces. As is the case with a ubiquitous term/trademark like "Kleenex", Apple's trademark issue is a chicken-and-egg scenario, where the term only became generic after it had been trademarked. What do you think? Should Apple rename their App Store to something like "iApps"?

source: TechFlash via CrunchGear

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posted on 01 Mar 2011, 20:03 3

1. JeffdaBeat (unregistered)


Dumpster is a trademark...
Taser is a trademark...
Jet Ski is a trademark...

I have to agree with Apple on this one. The word is indeed generic now because once the Apple App Store was launched, everyone had to have one. Before that, I don't remember being saying, "Did you buy that app for your computer?" I think that Apple coined the term to refer to their mobile software store, it's their name, no matter how generic the term is now. Just as generic as Jet Ski and Dumpster...

posted on 01 Mar 2011, 22:47 5

5. BaiGanyo (Posts: 308; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


And you're about as smart as a jet ski or a dumpster.

posted on 01 Mar 2011, 20:23 7

2. platayin1 (unregistered)


I know I'm gong to get blasted by those out there that have a short memory, but I have been using the term "apps" for the Palm OS since 2002. It's true I never combined the words "apps" and "store" together, but I used to always tell people they could get an "app" for their treo in palm online store.

posted on 01 Mar 2011, 21:32 5

3. wutang54 (Posts: 2; Member since: 29 Jun 2008)


I think there is a difference here...where Microsoft uses "Windows" to refer to an operating system, not panes of glass, "App Store" refers to, well, a store for apps.

posted on 01 Mar 2011, 22:36 5

4. bluechrism (unregistered)


I have to agree with wutang54 on this. An app is a generic term for small or mobile application and a store is a store. Windows marketplace, ovi store, and to be honest, any store where you can buy apps, regardless if they are affiliated to a mobile device/os/operator is an app store.

Windows works because although it's generic, it is a metaphor for panes of glass, rather than being a literal glass window. If Microsoft were a competitor to Renewal by Anderson and Pella corporation it would be very different.

Apple's app store is one of many app stores - it's not a metaphore, a play on words or anything else, it is an app store. Alowing them to trademark that would be like allowing Ralphs to trademark "Groceries" or Walgreens to trademark "Pharmacy" - just not going to happen.

Even if they loose this trademark name battle, i wouldn't change the name though (or not much, mabe put a "The" at the front) - calling your store the generic name has it's benefits.

posted on 02 Mar 2011, 04:33 2

6. fr0sty (unregistered)


I personally don't even call it the Apple "App Store". When I refer customers to Apple online products I just call it the "iTunes Market"... Just like how I call Google's, the Android Market, etc... etc.... I think it's too generic a term, "app store" to patent it. This reminds me of the "Mc" suites that McDonald's have filled against their "Mc" Everything they have patented.

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