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Microsoft Patents Apple

Microsoft Fights Apple Trademark On 'App Store' 425

Posted by timothy
from the this-post-tagged-appstore dept.
angry tapir writes "Microsoft is asking the US Patent and Trademark Office to deny Apple a trademark on the name 'App Store,' saying the term is generic and competitors should be able to use it. Apple applied for the trademark in 2008 for goods and services including 'retail store services featuring computer software provided via the internet and other computer and electronic communication networks' and other related offerings."
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Microsoft Fights Apple Trademark On 'App Store'

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  • Windows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @01:43AM (#34844830)

    Not quite as generic as "Windows" though, eh Microsoft?

    • Re:Windows (Score:5, Funny)

      by Fluffeh (1273756) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @01:46AM (#34844846)
      Or "Word" eh?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Dunbal (464142) *

      It's actually "Microsoft Windows", not "Windows".

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Microsoft would disagree...

        http://www.microsoft.com/About/Legal/EN/US/IntellectualProperty/Trademarks/EN-US.aspx

        "Microsoft" and "Windows" are two separate registered trademarks.

      • Re:Windows (Score:4, Informative)

        by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:32AM (#34845134)

        You're wrong. The US Patent and Trademarks Office doesn't let me link directly to it, so here's a cut and paste of Microsoft's Windows trademark.

        Word Mark WINDOWS
        Goods and Services IC 009. US 038. G & S: computer programs and manuals sold as a unit; namely, graphical operating environment programs for microcomputers. FIRST USE: 19831018. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19831018
        Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
        Serial Number 74090419
        Filing Date August 20, 1990
        Current Filing Basis 1A
        Original Filing Basis 1A
        Published for Opposition June 21, 1994
        Registration Number 1872264
        Registration Date January 10, 1995
        Owner (REGISTRANT) Microsoft Corporation CORPORATION DELAWARE One Microsoft Way Redmond WASHINGTON 980526399
        Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
        Attorney of Record William O. Ferron, Jr.
        Type of Mark TRADEMARK
        Register PRINCIPAL-2(F)
        Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20050407.
        Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20050407
        Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

    • Hey, maybe Microsoft could call their version the "Lapp Store".

      Oh no, that won't work...

    • Re:Windows (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Digana (1018720) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:11AM (#34845000)
      That's not how genericity of a trademark works. If Microsoft were in the business of selling large crystal panes that you can attach to walls to see through them, then yes, it couldn't call them "windows", because you're using the generic word for that product. It's just like Apple isn't selling produce, so they can use that common word as a trademark. The genericity of a trademark depends on the domain to which it is applied. In the case of "app store", Microsoft has a good case, because Apple is trying to trademark the general shortening of "application". I don't think the shortening of "application store" to "app store" will be able to withstand the attack of genericity.
      • Re:Windows (Score:5, Informative)

        by node 3 (115640) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:32AM (#34845138)

        That's not how genericity of a trademark works. If Microsoft were in the business of selling large crystal panes that you can attach to walls to see through them, then yes, it couldn't call them "windows", because you're using the generic word for that product.

        They don't sell "Windows: n. 1. transparent glass panes", but "Windows: n. 2. Primary graphical representations in a windowed GUI system".

      • Re:Windows (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bondsbw (888959) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:42AM (#34845188)

        So, what do you call these generic rectangle user interfaces containing buttons such as Close, Minimize, and Maximize, and a title bar, client area, and grips used to resize such generic rectangle UI? I have an idea of what I would call it, but according to you I would owe Microsoft money for the use of the word.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          The more intuitive word, assuming no prior prejudices, would probably be "boxes."
          • Re:Windows (Score:5, Informative)

            by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:46AM (#34846552) Journal
            That's not the word that they chose at Xerox, because they were concerned with the user perception, not the implementation. In implementation, they were just reserved regions of the frame buffer (Smalltalk-76 didn't support overlapping windows), but in terms of user interaction they were things that you looked through into your document - windows. This is why they called them windows (instances of the Window class in Smalltalk-76 and Smalltalk-80). This was almost a decade before MS Windows 1.0 (which also didn't support overlapping windows) was released.
      • Re:Windows (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:07AM (#34845340)

        The frames around an application's UI, that you can move around and such? Those were called "windows" in the trade press before Microsoft wrote their OS. A bit ago Microsoft sued Lindows claiming "Lindows" was too close to their "Windows" trademark. They dropped the suit when the judge said that the Lindows legal team had introduced enough evidence to call into question Microsoft's claim on the Windows trademark, and opted instead to buy the Lindows trademark for $20 million (the Lindows software is now called Linspire).

        Still feeling quite so sure of your superiority to the OP?

      • Re:Windows (Score:4, Insightful)

        by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:07AM (#34845342)

        Back when Windows was trademarked, Microsoft's product was an application framework that let you create applications that ran in windows. Windows was as generic a term in computing then as it is in house construction now. It seemed absolutely ludicrous that Microsoft could trademark it. It might now seem so weird now, because we've got so used to it.

        I don't think the shortening of "application store" to "app store" will be able to withstand the attack of genericity.

        If "Windows" did, then "App Store" certainly will, if judgements are consistent.

      • Since 2000, I've been maintaining GraphApp, an open source GUI portability library. Although named GraphApp on the web site, it was always supposed to be part of a larger portability library providing other services, which is why its header file is named app.h, why it compiles to libapp.a under Linux and app.lib under Windows, why the FAQ mentions "App" as the name of the intended work, and why one of the first things you do when making a program with my library is you create an App struct using the new_app

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        X Windows predated Windows 1.0 by at least a year. And previous systems (like "W" - which was the basis for the name of the "X" Window System) were around a couple years before that.

      • Microsoft has a good case, because Apple is trying to trademark the general shortening of "application".

        Is that what they are shortening? I always thought App Store was short for Apple Store...

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Windows fails the genericity test because they did not invent the Windowi GUI and the term "window" was coined to describe the interface long before Microsoft entered that marketplace. If you followed the Lindows story closely, you would know those details and how the settlement over "Lindows" resulted from a counter-claim seeking to remove Microsoft's trademark of the word "Windows." All predictions were that Microsoft would lose it and they quickly settled with the company they were suing over the use o

        • by gcnaddict (841664)
          ...so many lawyers in this thread.

          How about I cite one?

          I also think that MS might successfully argue that "Windows" is not a generic term for operating systems, but is descriptive of an attribute of the goods, thereby opening the door for acquired distinctiveness -- an undoubtedly easy showing.

          That says nothing of the argument that "Windows" for operating systems has "ceased to have current generic meaning," and is therefore susceptible to trademark protection. See the dicta of Harley-Davidson, Inc. v

    • They should just call it the iApp Store.
  • "Microsoft App Store" will always be "Microsoft App[le] Store" in my mind because Microsoft is (once again) playing catch-up.
  • Clothing store, department store, toilet store. What would be the obvious name for a store that sells apps?
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      What would be the obvious name for a store that sells apps

      CompUSA?

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @01:53AM (#34844884)

      Huh? Department stores don't sell departments. And WTF is a toilet store?

    • Microsoft(r) Windows(tm) Live Store?

    • by Tharsman (1364603)
      • App Shop
      • App Market
      • App Marketplace
      • App Mall
      • App Dealer
      • Buy Apps
      • App Boutique
      • App Deli
      • App Emporium
      • App Outlet
      • App Repository
      • App Showroom,
      • App Stand
      • App Supershop

      You can also try any of these replacing App with Soft, Software, Program, Executable (a bit geeky there) and any other App synonym you can think off.

    • by lxs (131946)

      Appothecary

    • Clothing store, department store, toilet store. What would be the obvious name for a store that sells apps?

      "Package Manager"

      Microsoft, and most of the posters here, are missing a few really clever things about the name.

      Apple actually coined a new word: "App" – Steve Jobs made this clear when he introduced the App Store in his discussion of Applications vs. Apps. It's a marketing trick... obviously, both are computer programs of a sort... but applications run on your full computer, and apps are simpler, not full applications, but more like Apple's dashboard widgets. No one would confuse, say, Photoshop wi

  • other on line shopping sites had software downloads before apple had the app store.

    • They're not claiming a patent on app stores, just a trademark on app stores called App Store. You can have a McDonalds Shoe Store and trademark it to prevent another shoe store from calling itself McDonalds, even if there have been other shoe stores and other McDonaldses for decades.

      However this trademark is quite likely invalid, 'cause you probably can't trademark a shoe store called Shoe Store.

      • by Graff (532189)

        However this trademark is quite likely invalid, 'cause you probably can't trademark a shoe store called Shoe Store.

        Ahh but you can trademark a shoe store named "S Store", just like it is possible to trademark an application store named "App Store". It is possible to trademark a modified version of a common name for an object as long as that modified version has "distinctive character" [wikipedia.org].

        Honestly, for most other markets the software was called "programs". It's mostly on the Apple side that they called the software "applications". It's really only the popularity of the "App Store" that has made the word "app" more popular w

    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      other on line shopping sites had software downloads before apple had the app store.

      This is not a patent fight, it's a trademark fight. None of those software download stores decided to brand themselves App Store. Heck, I never heard anyone refer to software as Apps until the iPhone made the term popular. Everyone called it Software or Programs before.

      • Wow, I must be getting old... I've heard them called that (and done the same myself) for decades. Or EXEs, executables, programs, COM files (for that class of executables), and of course applications.

  • Next thing MS will want the French version too: App Le Store.
  • by mysidia (191772) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @01:59AM (#34844914)

    Pretty sure Sales Force [programmableweb.com] came first.

    Back in 2006, when the iPhone was but a gleam in Steve Jobs' eye. And now there are lots of 'app stores'; including Apple's, but also including the Android app store, and others.

    So... where is Apple's eligibility for using this descriptive non-creative name as a trademark, if they do not have exclusive use, first use, or even most famous use in commerce?

    As far as I'm concerned, Apple's product is the iTunes App Store, which is specific and famous, but App Store is generic, and used by many organization's before and after Apple.

    Actually.. when I think of "App Store", the first thing that comes to mind for most people is the Android App Store. If anyone should be awarded the trademark (and they should not), it should be Google.

    • by znu (31198) <znu.public@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:06AM (#34844962)

      If users call it the "Android App Store", it's precisely because Apple popularized the "App Store" terminology. It would have to be, because Google doesn't call it that. Google calls it the "Android Marketplace".

    • by syousef (465911)

      >

      Back in 2006, when the iPhone was but a gleam in Steve Jobs' eye.

      Way back as far as then huh? Way to make a not quite middle age yet guy feel OLD. Man, it must be time for my midlife crisis. Bring on the bimbo and the sports car.

    • by HeraldMage (50053)

      The Android App Store?? Since when? I've never heard it called that, at least officially, in any trade press, IT journals, etc. Android [android.com] calls it (and always has) the Android Market. The Microsoft Zune has the Zune Marketplace. So I'm sorry but I don't see why Apple can't use App Store, especially when Microsoft gets to hold separate trademarks for Office, Word, Windows (note, the Microsoft and the other word each are separate trademarks).

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:53AM (#34845524)

      Pretty sure Sales Force [programmableweb.com] came first.

      Almost the same. "AppStore" rather than App Store.

      But here's the thing, Sales Force DID trademark it, but it was listed as a dead patent by 2008, presumably because their "vision" didn't turn into something actual or successful. Also, before them Sage had the trademark in 2000, but that was listed as dead within the year.

      Where's Apple's eligibility? Well they are the ones that applied to use a trademark which wasn't currently in use by anyone else. Same reason Sales Force could trademark it.

      And what's this nonsense about not even the most famous use? Of course Apple's use of "App Store" is the most famous.

      And the Android thing is "Android Marketplace", not app store. Even if it was App Store, how the hell would that mean Google would get the trademark rather than Apple, given that Apple's App Store was already open when Android's marketplace came along. You're talking complete shit.

    • That was AppStore not App Store. Different enough for trademark work? Perhaps.
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:04AM (#34844944) Homepage Journal

    I'm a former Mac user, so I hate Apple.
    I actually give a damn about stability, so I hate Microsoft.

    It's like watching zombies and vampires fight. No matter who loses, I cheer.

    LK

    • by TD-Linux (1295697)

      It's like watching zombies and vampires fight. No matter who loses, I cheer.

      No matter who loses, I run.

    • You should cheer for whichever is right, regardless of who you love/hate. To do otherwise sets a dangerous precedent.

      In this case, cheer for Microsoft.

    • by forsey (1136633) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @12:09PM (#34849184)

      I was about to insult your analogy because Zombies are totally not an equal to Vampires... then I thought about the properties of each...

      Vampire (Apple)
      - sexy
      - intelligent
      - chrismatic
      - thinks nothing of charming you only to suck you dry of blood/money

      Zombies (Microsoft)
      - slow
      - stupid
      - flakey
      - only has power in numbers

      Further evidence for the Microsoft zombie theory can be found during the Windows Mobile 7 release party [youtube.com].

  • To be fair (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:09AM (#34844990) Homepage

    I'm no Apple fan, but to be fair, when I hear "app store", I think of Apple. When I hear of another company's service being referred to as an "app store", I think of Apple. Apple has made the term "app store" what it is. I don't think Microsoft would be too pleased about Apple beinging out their new Windows interface for iDevices.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by VortexCortex (1117377)

      I'm no Apple fan, but to be fair, when I hear "app store", I think of Apple. When I hear of another company's service being referred to as an "app store", I think of Apple. Apple has made the term "app store" what it is. I don't think Microsoft would be too pleased about Apple beinging out their new Windows interface for iDevices.

      That's funny... When I hear "app store" i think: $_ =~ s/app(lication)? store/repository/;

      I've been using software repositories with Unix and Linux long before Apple decided to put a repo on a phone.

      Point being: I guess association depends on what name it was introduced to you as, and on what device/platform when you first encountered the idea of software repositories.

      'cmon, we all know Apple is trademark happy -- snapping up all i*, and *pod names, including established names like podcast -- No, I don't th

    • by klui (457783)

      After all, OS X introduced the .app extension. Microsoft's store should be called Exe Store.

    • by jamesh (87723)

      when I hear "app store", I think of Apple

      I actually thought that they might just have been having a bit of a play on words, with "app" also being the first 3 letters of "apple".

  • How about Kwik-E-Mart? Sounds like an App Store to me . . .

    • How about Kwik-E-Mart? Sounds like an App Store to me . . .

      Nah, the "Let's stick an E in front" phase is out -- Instead of e-mail, e-sign, e-tcetera, we're i-prefix happy.

      Perhaps iMart, iStore, iTcetera.

      The problem is that MS has already tried to combine both prefixes, much to the chagrin of the entire web developer community -- I dare not speak its name aloud.

  • The very next story [slashdot.org] demonstrates this trademark in action.
  • I'm shocked--shocked!--no one had already suggested this.
  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:35AM (#34848662) Homepage

    Lets help 'ol MS out, lets suggest some names for their Windows Software Store.

    - WinStore
    - SquirtCentral
    - BetaMart or BetaShop
    - SoftBazaar
    - SoftStore
    - SoftShop
    - MicroMart
    - WinMart
    - SteveMart (take that Jobs!)
    - SolutionCentral (heh.. hooo... hah, too funny)
    - KinShop

    Any others?

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