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Apple denies Amazon's claims that “app store” term is generic

Posted: , by Victor H.


Apple denies Amazon's claims that “app store” term is generic
In a yet another twist to the lawsuit which has turned to be as close to a linguistic dispute as it gets, Apple denies Amazon’s claims that “app store” is a generic term. The exact statement? “Apple denies that, based on their common meaning, the words ‘app store’ together denote a store for apps,” the company commented in a filing for the federal court in Oakland, California. Thus, in Cupertino’s view, Amazon is infringing on the trademark for the term it coined.

Amazon uses the terms as one word, namely “appstore,” but Apple is reasoning that it’s not commonly accepted by business to denote a store for apps and that’s the exact reason for the lawsuit. The online retailer chose to use that exact term when rolling out its market for applications back in March. Cupertino replied with a lawsuit instantly and is now looking for a court order which would prevent Amazon from using the “appstore” for its application market.

The term “app store” has been trademarked by Apple, but other companies such as Microsoft have also stepped up against such a trademark referring to the generic nature of the whole term. What’s your stance on the matter? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below.

source: Bloomberg

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posted on 20 May 2011, 05:08 3

1. clevername (Posts: 1407; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)

If its trademarked then its apples case. Generic would be more like "application store". And "app store" isn't commonly used anyway. For android its the "Android market", wp7 its the "marketplace", BlackBerry had the "app world". These are all named differently to differentiate from Apple offering on purpose. the closest example would be nokias "ovi app store". Even carrier application stores are different like att's "appcenter". There's also the "t-zone" that serves the same purpose, as well as the "Samsung zone" and I'm sure plenty of others.
I can't say amazon is trying to cash in on the recognition since the people that will recognize it the most are Apple users and they can't use amazon's app store anyway since its Android only, but they are definitely infringing upon a trademark by making a competing store on a competing platform with the same name.

posted on 20 May 2011, 07:24 3

7. JeffdaBeat (unregistered)

Other app stores are called different names because of the trademark Apple has on "The App Store." Microsoft and Amazon are just the first folks to fight Apple on the clam. Trust, if other companies could, they'd drop the names of their current store fronts and adopt App Store because most folks associate apps with "The App Store."

There is only one problem with the case for Microsoft and Amazon...the term "App Store" wasn't common and rarely used before Apple launched "The App Store." This wasn't a case of Nintendo trademarking "It's On Like Donkey Kong" years after people had been saying as a phrase. Apple came up with a concept for a software store front, named it, and because it was the first people refer to any storefront like it as an "App Store."

And although it's in general use by consumers, trademark law says if you file a trademark it is your duty to defend your trademark at all costs or the term will fall into generic use in which case, your trademark is no longer valid. Even though consumers use the term generically, Apple has not allowed any other company to refer to their store front as "The App Store." Only if they let Android and WP7 slip and use it would they not have a case...

posted on 20 May 2011, 08:53 2

12. sinfulta (Posts: 267; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)

Yes, this goes back years and years. Just like when people Used to buy Coke-Cola or Pepsi-Cola. Pepsi after years of coke hearing it as a Generic term being used, didn't really fight it differently till the late 80's early 90's and rebranded to just Pepsi. Even in there commercials they told you how to order your Cola of choice by asking for : "A Pepsi". So even if they loose, it could be one of those scenarios where they just might end up changing the name anyways. Coke stuck in people's head so bad it worked to they're advantage and not because Pepsi was an inferior product... but because the marketing terms that was used. Similar case here. In the end it doesn't really matter. Android vs Apple, Pepsi vs Coke, your still going to choose what floats your boat.

posted on 20 May 2011, 05:55 1

2. g (unregistered)

Can't agree more with you, clevername, and it's this total lack of creativity that's really disturbing - couldn't they just come up with Amazon App Center, or whatever? It seems that innovation is being denied at its core even for things as basic as a name, let alone a product.

posted on 20 May 2011, 06:11 2

3. Junior (Posts: 52; Member since: 09 Jun 2010)

Regardless of what OS I'm using, or anyone for that matter, we all tend to call them "apps" which, of course, is short for applications. Apple may have popularized the term but they certainly didn't coin it. Amazon and Microsoft have a valid argument in saying that it's generic but I'm interested in seeing what the courts say.

posted on 20 May 2011, 06:25 2

5. g (unregistered)

But it's the "App Store" term that they have coined, kind of.

posted on 20 May 2011, 09:35 2

15. Junior (Posts: 52; Member since: 09 Jun 2010)

Right. But what I meant to say is that it's generic in the way that any of the stores can be called app stores because that's what they sell....apps.

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:36 2

30. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)

Ummmm, they used to be called PROGRAMS. It's Apple that started calling it "Apps". So yes, you are calling it "apps" now because Apple started it.

posted on 20 May 2011, 16:51 3

41. box (unregistered)

gemini, again you exhibit your bias and ignorance: apple is NOT the first company to call a program an Application nor an App; that was done years before apple started developing thier poor excuse of a phone with stolen technology and cheap slave-like chinese labor

posted on 20 May 2011, 17:01 3

42. Lucas777 (Posts: 2121; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)

no, they wernt the FIRST but they were the first to make everyone start calling it that...

posted on 21 May 2011, 14:53

48. SomeGuy (unregistered)

Right, Lucas.

And "box".... Cheap slave-like Chinese labor? You gotta be joking me. You've just named 95% of big business in the US.

posted on 21 May 2011, 16:51

49. Lucas777 (Posts: 2121; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)

what? i dont even know what u r trying to say...

posted on 20 May 2011, 06:17 2

4. andro (unregistered)

Apple being typically childish here again, especially knowing its own app store is being eroded by android ones and amazon market now entering the scene. How can app store be anything other than a generic term,next apple will claim 'sim card' or 'syncing' or 'music download' or 'smartphone' are terms owned by them and not a generic terms,much like the ridiculous claims from them previous that all cds or otherwise with an apple on it is violating their trade mark,grocery shops beware!!!!

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:19 1

28. lollipop (Posts: 43; Member since: 15 Feb 2011)

You are an idiot. So what you are telling me is a i can name my product after a generic word like WINDOWS or i can trademark the name PIZZA HUT but i can't trademark the name "App Store"?

Anyone in the computer world knows that for the longest time the term APPLICATIONS was used to denote software running on a Mac. Windows, MS-DOS, and what not termed software running on their devices as Programs. When Linux came out they termed software running on there CPUs as Packages. Infact the anti apple crowd used to CRONE on and ON about how childish Apple was for using the term "Apps" to identify the programs running on Macs.

So if you want to argue generic then why was ther term Apps used EXCLUSIVELY to Apple products until after the intoduction of the iPhone? Also not to kick you in the crotch but there was a Grocery chain who owned and operated under the name "The Grocery Store."

posted on 20 May 2011, 06:55 2

6. who cares (unregistered)

It is a generic term. Even though they would of called it the application store, people would of still called it the app store cuz it means the same thing in general.

posted on 20 May 2011, 07:31 1

8. Slammer (Posts: 816; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

I always feel Apple is trying to quell any kind of competition with childish tactics including trying to use the patent office as a joke.

However, I don't see where Apple having "App Store" as their proprietary name should be an issue. Amazon is better than this. They should just choose another name and move on. If people like Amazon, they can adapt to what ever name they come up with. This is a chance to be more creative. I don't like the name App Store anyway.

John B.

posted on 20 May 2011, 07:58 1

9. superpooburger (Posts: 31; Member since: 17 Feb 2011)

well, why does everyone is shouting about this?

app store is a generatic expresion used to name a application store. A shop in which you can buy application. For as long as you use name in that meaning, you do not do anything iligal. But when you give an application or anything else a name "app store" then you are violating trademarked. So MS and amazon can not give their own app store name "app store"...

posted on 20 May 2011, 08:32 2

11. Rich (unregistered)

And they are not named "app store" but they are app stores. I can say im going to the gas station when im going to hess. But the first gas station cannot start complaining that they coined the phrase gas station.

if i open an eating establishment and call it 'restaurant' i cant sue if any OTHER peoples places commercial claims "come to the restaurant and recieve a free..." that would be just silly.

if thats the case ill go trademark many generic things right now. "laundromat" "pizza parlor" and whenever someone uses that phrase to refer to their place... BOOM... ill get em.

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:32

29. lollipop (Posts: 43; Member since: 15 Feb 2011)

Umm... i suggest you look up "The Grocery Store" which was a grocery store that owned and operated under the name "The Grocery Store."

What is the difference between Pizza Parlor and Pizza Hut? Hell, are you against the trademarked names of, Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Best Buy, Steam, The Cellular Store, and The Mattress Store? All of them are existing businesses...

posted on 20 May 2011, 08:59 2

13. Ben (unregistered)


Apple calls its phone the 'iphone' therefore form hence forth any mobile device named with the title 'phone' will be infringing on a name trademark from apple and YOU WILL BE SUED

Do not upset Apple they are worried enough on losing ground to android and surpassing app stores,DO NOT AGGREVATE THEM FURTHER!

posted on 20 May 2011, 09:27 2

14. obvious (unregistered)

A shoe store is where you buy shoes, an APP store is where you buy... apps.
I don't think anyone can trademark "Shoe Store", same goes for "App Store."

posted on 20 May 2011, 11:19 2

16. r2212xx (Posts: 41; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)

Tomorrow Apple will say 'Apple' is not a generic word. (Botanists will have to think a new name for the fruit).
Day after tomorrow it will say that 'half eaten apple' is a copyright of Apple (we will have to finish our apples complete or leave them intact. No eating them half and leaving it in the refrigerator for tomorrow).


posted on 20 May 2011, 11:56 2

19. gallitoking (Posts: 4630; Member since: 17 May 2011)

Ben,obvious and last but not least r2212xx u guys are .. just plain ..dumb... and completely miss the point... if you trademark whatever that might be.. u cant use it ..period... trademarks are regulated by the US Patent and Trademark office, and is up to thier judgment to either reject or not... not apple or anyone else.. so... dont hate... and show some class on the topcis, and informed first before typing......

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:07

26. p0rkguy (Posts: 677; Member since: 23 Nov 2010)

Silly fanboy, how is Apple going to deny generic use of the term when Steve Jobs himself used it on their own competition?
That alone makes it generic.

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:41 1

31. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)

Yes, because apps became a common term for programs after it gained popularity on Apple products. But it is TRADEMARKED under Apple as a term they call their programs as.

posted on 21 May 2011, 01:46

44. p0rkguy (Posts: 677; Member since: 23 Nov 2010)

No you fanboy. You don't get it. Steve Jobs himself used the term to describe the competition. That alone allows the competition to say the same about themselves.
What now you fanboys don't want to agree on something Steve Jobs said? Are you sure you want to go against God like that?

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:47

32. r2212xx (Posts: 41; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)

Well the point is not being plain or dumb or anything else. The point is there are many things out there that are so generic and common that it is insanity to copyright or trademark it. That is what the issue is all about. If today it is the term 'app' then tomorrow it might be the word 'Apple'. Imagine paying a royalty in the US patent office everytime you eat an apple. Wouldn't it be weird ? And yes my friend we need a little less ''class on topics'' and ''info before typing'' than you do...

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:55 1

35. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)

You're not getting it. Apple the software and computer company is different from the apple fruit that you are eating. Just like the Amazon internet store is different from the Amazon warriors in the Amazon. Just like Microsoft Windows is different from the windows of your house. You stikk don't get it huh?

posted on 20 May 2011, 11:47 1

17. Hi (unregistered)

hey that's belong to apple people!!!! you all soon cant call "Apple" (the fruit) anymore you need to change it cause' its belong to apple!!!!

posted on 20 May 2011, 11:48 1

18. Hi (unregistered)

ooops someone mention that already sorri i didnt read all the comments :)

posted on 20 May 2011, 12:27 3

20. dandirk (unregistered)

"Apple" is trademarked as a technological company name. Actually they trademarked Apple Inc. I believe. This does NOT mean we have to rename fruit.

Trademarked names generally can only be applied to the sector of business they are trademarked in and used to prevent brand hijacking in the same market. Though there are circumstances where if proved the name was created to take advantage of the branding/marketing of the trademark holder, the trademark could be upheld.

I could open an "Apple" car dealership and Apple Inc could sue, but would loose because my dealership and Apple's business do not overlap markets. Unless they could prove the only reason I named my dealership "Apple" was to ride Apple Inc's marketing coat-tails.

This is the reason Monster Cables sues everyone with "Monster" in their name and looses. But as mentioned before trademark holders have to defend their trademark (usually by lawsuits) to keep it. So essentially companies know they will loose but have to sue anyways to prove they are defending their trademark.

It is my personal opinion that "App Store" is just too generic to properly trademark. The generic term is rooted in the market it services (store for apps), while other generic termed trademarks (like "Apple") are generally not a from the same vocabulary set as the market it services. Aka Apple=fruit not apple=computer term. Aka good luck successfully trademarking Motherboard for a motherboard company.

Just because Apple made the term popular does not make it generic but theirs imho. Now if people used the term "iStore" to reference an app store as common language use then that is a different story. Just like "Google" has become a verb and a generic term for search engine.

As others have mentioned, Apple is just doing what they are allowed to get away with. They should have NEVER gotten the trademark to begin with. Its not their fault, the people that approved it are the once creating the problem.

posted on 20 May 2011, 15:02 1

36. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)

I agree with your early paragraphs, but not the latter ones.

Apple was the only one using "applications" instead of "programs". It's always been called "programs". When the iphone and ipad gained popularity, so did their apps (programs). So yes, they have every right to own the term "App Store" or even "Applications" for that matter.

posted on 21 May 2011, 01:48

45. p0rkguy (Posts: 677; Member since: 23 Nov 2010)

Microsoft popularized operating systems. Why is Apple using "OS"X? Microsoft has every right to own the term OS.

posted on 20 May 2011, 12:33

21. Ben (unregistered)

*gallitoking* I'm gonna trademark the word 'food' and if i ever hear you mention the word you'd get sued Steve Jobs style,once its trademarked its mine despite the generic makeup of the english language of it. Hmmmmm how many other companies have used or trademarked the word 'store'? Apple could be in trouble with that stupid logic!

posted on 20 May 2011, 16:01 2

40. gallitoking (Posts: 4630; Member since: 17 May 2011)

you are just as dumb as your comments... it would only affect me if I open a store or try to market products under your word.. food.... but you wont get it aproved in the 1st place.. u dummba$$... and is not the words that are trademark is the combination of both... app store.. if you only say app ..yopur are good and if you only say store.. no foul.. but if you try to market your product.. whaterver that might be.. using the words app store, than expect to be sued... get it or you want me to go kidergarten on you?...

posted on 20 May 2011, 12:39

22. Techman2000 (unregistered)

Anyone else see the truth behind all these bizarre legal complaints and childish attempts of suing is that apple is indeed worried its all slipping slowly away from them from android overtaking to other app stores taking prominence

Its good fun to see!

posted on 20 May 2011, 13:59 1

24. snowgator (Posts: 3158; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)

I would not be surprised to see Apple win this one. @dandirk did a great job defining the purpose of a trademark- to protect a name that has become associated with a product you sell. "app store" is very generic, but Apple did trademark it, and Amazon is selling the exact type of product that Apple is, using a name trademarked by a different company. If this isn't upheld, what is the point of trademarks to protect your product?

I agree that all sites that sell apps will be referred to by the public as "app stores", but that is different then a company using it to further their own version of the same product.

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:09

27. p0rkguy (Posts: 677; Member since: 23 Nov 2010)

It became generic when Steve Jobs used it when refering the competition. Just abiding by his words.

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:02

25. dandirk (unregistered)


I don't think Apple is worried at ALL... They make more money then companies 5x their size, their products are considered the leaders in almost EVERY market they are in (for hand held devices at least).

Apple has worked hard to achieve this success through decent easy to use products and Branding, Marketing.

Branding is VERY important. Tough to get a good brand name out there, hold it and VERY easy to wreck.

Apple is doing everything in their power to expand and protect their brand name, because it is VITAL to their business.

A study that came out that says Apple fans seem to share the same type of brain patterns that religious people have when thinking about their product/religion.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/apple-cause s-religious-reaction-in-brains-of-fans-say-neurosc ientists/

That is the power of the Apple brand name, and Apple knows this and will do anything to protect it.

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:49 2

33. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)

To those who keep on whining about Apple's trademark of the "App Store". I challenge you to produce a computer chip and name it "Intel". "Intel" is a word also commonly used as a shortcut for "intelligence" in the CIA or FBI. Or, I challenge you to produce a software company and name it "Windows". Windows are of course very common part of the house. All houses have windows right? So go ahead and let's see what happens.

posted on 20 May 2011, 14:51 2

34. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)

Or better yet, I challenge you to put out an internet store and name it "Amazon". "Amazon" is known for its rainforests. It's also known as a tribe of strong and brave women. So there. Go ahead, and let's see what happens.

posted on 20 May 2011, 15:07

37. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)

Btw, my ipad2 is now in Alaska. Can't wait, lol.

posted on 20 May 2011, 15:17 2

38. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)

I've heard that Nokia is renaming Symbian. They're renaming it to "Android". That should be ok, right? I mean an "android" is another generic name for a "robot". And Nokia's first Android phone will be called "Blackberry". That should be fine as well right? I mean we all know that a blackberry is a popular fruit right? And Nokia will be selling their first Nokia Android Blackberry phone on their new website called "Amazon". We all know that "Amazon" is also a generic word, so it should be fine right?

posted on 20 May 2011, 15:23 2

39. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)

Here's the reply of fandroids.

"Android" is trademarked by Google. "Blackberry" is trademarked by RIM. "Amazon" is trademarked by Amazon. So those terms are protected and can't be used by Nokia because they've already been trademarked. BUT, it would not be right and it's very immature of Apple to trademark "Apple" and "App Store". That's just wrong.


posted on 20 May 2011, 21:16

43. snowgator (Posts: 3158; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)

Actually laughed a lot during that rant. Well said, Gemini.

posted on 21 May 2011, 01:56

46. p0rkguy (Posts: 677; Member since: 23 Nov 2010)

Apple can trademark whatever they want. The fact that Steve Jobs used it to describe other markets instead of their own terms allowed the competition to do whatever they please.
If Steve Jobs didn't mess that part up then Apple would stand a chance.

posted on 21 May 2011, 12:26

47. andro (unregistered)

Apple now seems to think they own the english language,they are getting worse by the day i tells you.

Oxford English dictionary will be getting sued by apple next

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