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Amazon Responds To "App Store" Lawsuit From Apple 414

Posted by samzenpus
from the make-up-your-own-name dept.
tekgoblin writes "Apple had filed a lawsuit in March against Amazon's use of 'App Store' in their newly launched Amazon AppStore. Apple had informed Amazon that using the term 'App Store' was unlawful because they owned the rights to the term itself. In their response Amazon indicates that the term 'App Store' is too generic for Apple to lay claim to the name itself."
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Amazon Responds To "App Store" Lawsuit From Apple

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  • Dear God... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @02:51PM (#35956026)
    For the love of sanity, please let Amazon win this one. I don't know if I want to live in a country where justice is so blind that it allows trademarking the name of the category a thing belongs to as the proper name of that thing.
    • Indeed, these kind of suits are getting ridiculous... (and I don't mean the fashionable ones.)
    • by morcego (260031)

      I don't know. After the "1 click" patent, I'm not sure I want Amazon to win this.

    • Presumably the action will be on the question of whether "App" is a protectable term. I think that nobody would bother arguing that "Application Store" is trademarkable. It's clearly too generic. "App Store" may be less clear, though. Certainly Apple has done a lot to popularize the term but, at the end of the day, "App" really is just an abbreviation of "Application" that was already in pretty wide circulation before Apple starting using it.

      So at the end of the day, don't worry, I think you will probably g

      • Re:Dear God... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @03:08PM (#35956224)

        Presumably the action will be on the question of whether "App" is a protectable term.

        Don't be silly. I'm sure Apple is objecting to the use of the word "Store". :-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>>I'm sure Apple is objecting to the use of the word "Store". :-)

          Your joke is not as funny as you believe. Amazon was sued in the mid-90s for calling itself "the world's largest bookstore". Barnes&Noble claimed that it isn't a store, therefore should not use that term, and the idiotic courts agreed, forcing amazon to drop the label. (In my opinion, a place where you store books, food, widgets, et cetera can call itself "a store".)

      • by Whalou (721698)

        "App" really is just an abbreviation of "Application" that was already in pretty wide circulation before Apple starting using it.

        The term application might have been used quite a bit but I think historically Mac OS X is the OS that used it in it's implementation.

        On Unix and variants software has been mostly referred to has executables (in the chmod +x sense) or binaries (stored in */bin directories).
        On Windows software was referred has executables (.exe files) or programs (stored in C:\Program Files).
        H

    • Realism time - at first App Store seems generic. But when, before the Apple "App Store" launched, did anyone ever use the term "app" outside of a restaurant?

      That's the key thing. The slang if you will, is something Apple developed. Like Kleenex or Windows it sounds generic, but that's because it's so widely used now that you think of it as generic when the term really originated with Apple.

      So I don't think it's that silly a suit at all, though I don't care who wins it. I just think there's more of a po

      • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @03:23PM (#35956390)
        People have been using the term "app" as an abbreviation for "application" for years and years. The term in no way originates with Apple.
      • by Your.Master (1088569) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @03:39PM (#35956592)

        The term app was used as an abbreviation for application long before Apple added it to the iPhone. Google Apps existed before the iPhone. Slashdot had discussions about Apps [google.com].

        The term "app" seems generic because it's generic, not because it's popular. Windows does not sound generic to me when talking about Operating Systems. Kleenex does, I grant, because "facial tissue" is not a term I ever learned; but this isn't like Kleenex at all. Nobody is claiming that the term "clean" comes from Kleenex. It's more like somebody today trying to defend a trademark on the term "boxing gloves" because before 2011 nobody used the term "boxing" for anything but packing and unpacking. It's just not true.

        Also, do people seriously use "app" for "appetizers"? Or is there some other reason you would use app in a restaurant?

        • I had totally forgotten about "Killer App", which is obviously the use everyone would recognize instantly... but I had not been aware of really any other app uses, which your google search illustrated quite well. So I'm totally wrong on that point.

          I guess Apple's case then rests wholly on the combination of "App" and "Store" then, which still may get them somewhere...

        • by asynchronous13 (615600) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @07:02PM (#35958490)

          You are barking up the wrong tree. You are correct that Apple did not invent the term "App", but that has no bearing on the validity of the trademark.

          "Open Happiness" is trademarked by Coca-Cola. Certainly no one claims that either word was invented by the company. PespiCo would be legally liable for using that phrase in an ad-campaign, however, a company in a different market (Dell for example) could probably use "Open Happiness" for computer sales without issue.

          Are you familiar with "The Container Store". It's a store where you buy, wait for it, containers!! And yes, "The Container Store" is trademarked. No other company selling containers can use that name. Similarly, Apple was granted a trademark for "App Store". Just because App Stores have more competition than Container Stores at the moment does not make the trademark any less valid.

      • I have a copy of Halo for X-box. It pre-dates the app store. Right on the front of the box it says: "The killer app for X-Box!". That's just an example using an item I am looking at in this room. Give me time and I'll have a mountain of examples.
      • by steveg (55825)

        Um. The people I know have been using the term for at least two decades.

        But I don't think I've ever heard the term in a restaurant. Unless we were talking about computers.

        I guess it depends on where you live and the people you hang out with. Slang is not universal.

      • by Fozzyuw (950608)

        But when, before the Apple "App Store" launched, did anyone ever use the term "app" outside of a restaurant?

        Yes. Ask any software programmer who programmed Applications for a living.

      • Don't forget the Sage Networks and Salesforce.com earlier applications for the phrase "appstore"...
    • I know this isn't going to be popular, but as long as the laws are on the books that allow companies to tm English phrases, then they have the right to do so, as dumb as you or I might think that is.

      Besides, I don't think App Store together had any meaning before Apple, much like "Band Aid" had no particular meaning before becoming the de facto standard term for a bandage.

      • "app" is a generic term for an application, as "store" is a generic term for a place to buy things. There is nothing novel about Apple's supposed trademark, they are merely describing what their storefront is.
        • by AJH16 (940784) *

          In that sense, the bandaid example wouldn't stand up either though as it is a bandage for first aid. (Band)(Aid). It is perhaps a half step removed from app store true, but it is pretty close. That said, I agree that App Store should not be trade markable, but I'm not sure that it isn't legally trade markable.

        • by tehcyder (746570)
          The trouble is that McDonalds's can trademark "I'm lovin' it" or Coca Cola "it's the real thing" and they're just combinations of very ordinary day-to-day words.
    • by goombah99 (560566)

      For the love of sanity, please let Amazon win this one. I don't know if I want to live in a country where justice is so blind that it allows trademarking the name of the category a thing belongs to as the proper name of that thing.

      Do you mean a proper name line say "Amazon" or a generic name like "apple"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by catmistake (814204)

      ... where justice is so blind that it allows trademarking the name of the category a thing belongs to as the proper name of that thing.

      Oh, no! Did Apple register trademarks for Package Manager and Software Repository ?! Those bastards! It's too bad Amazon (and Microsoft) can't possibly think up something new or different now, like, say, App Market, or Application Cafe, or the Amazon Repo, or Software Grocery. OR ANYTHING AT ALL. Amazon could call it the Shoe Store, and it wouldn't matter, we'd all know what it really was. How did Cydia come up with it's own name? HOW??!

  • Other names (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    App shop, App mart, App mall, App stand, Apptorium, Appmania, App warehouse.

  • Why don't people try to find if a name is already owned by someone else before they use it? Why are we continually subjected to news about such clownishness?
    • Amazon knew that Apple used the "App Store" name and also knew that they could not lay claim to that generic phrase. Apple sued them when Amazon used it and now Amazon responds saying the word is too generic now the decision rests in the judges hands.
      • More importantly, Amazon knew "App Store" was used by Apple and is trying to piggy back off its success. That's what makes Amazon wrong, not the fact that Apple is trying to trademark a phrase.

        • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

          More importantly, Apple knew that "App" was already a generic, commonly-used term and was trying to piggy back off its success.

        • by sycorob (180615)

          Why does that make them wrong? Apple is stupid for using a generic term for their product, then trying to trademark it. If Apple had called it something else, they could have trademarked it, and then marketed the hell out of it. Instead, they trademarked extremely common words and now they're potentially paying the price.

          It was wrong for Amazon to get the 1-click patent, but I can't fault them for trying. But Amazon is still on the right side of this.

    • by chispito (1870390)
      Because this is the equivalent of claiming that "Bob's Toy Store" infringes on your trademark for "Toy Store." You shouldn't have to check first on something so generic.
    • by brkello (642429)

      So because one store calls itself a grocery store, all other stores that sell groceries should come up with unique names to do the same thing? No, it's stupid.

      • Part of trademarks is that they need to (or at least are supposed to) be unique to a degree. They are a non-generic mark that people can use to identify your brand. Well part of that obviously means you can't just use a generic term for what you are doing. You can't take an existing descriptive term and trademark it. Now that doesn't mean your trademark can't use a word that is descriptive of your field. Like you could trademark Brkello's Groceries and that would be fine. However you couldn't then go after

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      They did you dimwit. The point is App Store is too generic, so no one should own it.

      This is what it takes to get a trademark canceled.

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taikiNO@SPAMcox.net> on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @03:29PM (#35956468)

    Yeah, the term "App store" is pretty generic, however, in the context of what Amazon's looking to do with the term, it's pretty blatant that they'd choose that name to sell mobile applications on branded equipment, particularly when Apple has stuck it's neck out in such a way that it may in fact cause some confusion for non-tech minded folks.

    • Based on the way amazon's appstore is set up, it's clear that they hope to offer apps on other platforms in the future (naming assets includes abbreviations for android. If they planned to only ever do android, that would not be the case).
       
        sell mobile applications
       
      sell... applications... store for applications... store for apps... app store. How is that such a stretch for you?

  • by Morgaine (4316) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @03:36PM (#35956552)

    Why is it that companies seem to think that they can cordon off words from the natural language wordspace and treat them as private "property"? The fact that their governments give them a piece of paper confirming ownership merely shifts the question, because governments don't have any inherent rights over the wordspace either.

    The phrase that Apple might rightly consider theirs in the US market is "Apple App Store", but even that should not be treated as exclusive if Apple Records or Apple Corps or some other Apple ever wanted to open an app store.

    When you adopt a generic term as part of the your product name, you have to live with the consequences of non-exclusivity.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      They think that they are above the law. There are plenty of willing peasants to defend them.

      You could have seen the same thing 500 years ago. Replace Steve Jobs with King Henry.

    • by sycorob (180615)

      We give this right to the government to help commerce along. Honestly. It's good that Amazon can trademark "Amazon" and keep others from using it. They can spend years working on delivering great service, improving their offerings and so on, and not worry about somebody opening "Amazon Shopping" and ripping people off, destroying their good name. Imagine if you could open a "Pizza Hut" right next to an actual Pizza Hut, same colors and everything, but with even less concern for quality. As a consumer, how c

  • by Dialecticus (1433989) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @03:46PM (#35956708)
    According to a related article at The Register [theregister.co.uk], as recently as October of 2010, Steve Jobs himself publicly called Apple's app store "the easiest-to-use, largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone." So it would appear that even Cupertino is using the phrase app store generically in reference to its competitors. I'd call this tidbit a crushing blow to Apple's case.

    Thanks, Steve! We all app-reciate it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Yakasha (42321)

      According to a related article at The Register [theregister.co.uk], as recently as October of 2010, Steve Jobs himself publicly called Apple's app store "the easiest-to-use, largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone." So it would appear that even Cupertino is using the phrase app store generically in reference to its competitors. I'd call this tidbit a crushing blow to Apple's case. Thanks, Steve! We all app-reciate it.

      "Genericizing" a trademark after the fact doesn't invalidate it, unless the owner fails to enforce it. Since the trademark was applied for in 2008, what Steve said in 2010 is irrelevant, since Apple can do what it wants with its own trademark and is indeed trying to enforce it.

  • Smart move by Amazon. I agree that the term 'App Store' is generic and should not be something Apple can trademark. But even if they lose, the "fight" will be covered by the press - who seems to have Apple fever. Rather then spend piles of money on advertising, just call it 'App Store' and let Apple's legal department get the ball rolling. The press will cover it and everyone will know there are "two app stores".

    Pity all the other app stores. They will be fighting over third place. And most marketing

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