trademark infringement case against Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) in
Oakland, Calif, federal court, Apple, Inc. (AAPL)
argued that the term "App Store" was synonymous with the iPhone, just
as the trademarked HoneyBaked Hams are synonymous with a Michigan company.
However, the judge preside over the case indicates that she feels like
Apple is feeding the court a bunch of baloney.
The iPhone is Apple's biggest product and it gets over half its revenue from
it. In the face of Google Inc.'s (GOOG)
Android OS handsets -- which often come with superior hardware to the current
generation iPhone -- one of Apple's main selling points has traditionally been
its strong catalog of apps.
The company argues that if other smartphone makers could use the term "App
Store", or similar terms, that it would confuse customers and
"irreparably" harm its sales. Apple currently holds a trademark on the term.
The first major company to call Apple's bluff was Seattle, Washington-based
Amazon, who on March 22 opened the "Appstore for
Android", a third party alternative to the Android market.
Apple, who does not allow third-party app stores, sued Amazon within days. Amazon argued that
the term "App Store" was generic and Apple could not claim ownership
over those two words.
Meanwhile, Apple filed a motion seeking an injunction to ban Amazon from using
the name until the case was settled. Apple claims that Android fails to
provide protection of user data and against "viruses", and thus
associating the term "app store" with Android would give the iOS App
Store a bad name.
Deliberating on that request, presiding Judge Phyllis Hamilton said she
was "probably", going to deny that request, after further review the
filed documents. Apparently the rejection is less about the inherent merit
of the term and more about Apple's inability to argue its case effectively.
Judge Hamilton says a "stumbling block for Apple" is its inability to
provide "real evidence of actual confusion" among customers.
She told Apple's legal team in court, "I'm troubled by the showing
that you’ve made so far, but that’s where you’re likely not to prevail at this
A denial of the motion is a serious blow to Apple's case. Though it can
continue to contest the issue in court and hope for a trial victory, it would
be an indication that Apple's case might not be as strong as it thinks it is.
Apple was passed by Android last year in U.S. and
The Cupertino, Calif. based firm has been busy in court suing South Korea's
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (SEO:005930) for allegedly "copying" the iPad. Samsung has
since filed countersuit . Apple has also been on the receiving
end, with Finland's Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) forcing it to settle over patent
infringement claims. Apple is also the subject of a serious suit, which
claims that the upcoming Mac operating system, OS X 10.7 "Lion", ripped off a feature
that was earlier offered to the company by an independent developer.