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Challenges Apple's claim to "App Store"

Microsoft is challenging Apple's filing for a trademark on the term "App Store," Good Gear Guide reports, because it feels the term is generic and that competitors should be able to use it as well.

In its 2008 filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple defined an app store as "retail store services featuring computer software provided via the internet and other computer and electronic communication networks." Its App Store was launched that year, along with the iPhone 3GS. It now boasts more than 300,000 available apps. Most recently, Apple launched the Mac App Store just weeks ago, for use with its desktop computers and laptops. 

Microsoft filed a motion with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board yesterday, challenging Apple's claim to the term. Apple's trademark request page says "an opposition is now pending."

Microsoft argues that both "app" and "store" are generic terms, and that consumers use the term "app store" generically to refer to an online store where applications are sold. It even used Steve Jobs' own words against him, quoting a published interview where the Apple CEO said, "Amazon, Verizon, and Vodafone have all announced that they are creating their own app stores for Android."

"Competitors should be free to use 'app store' to identify their own stores and the services offered in conjunction with those stores," Microsoft said.

Microsoft launched its own app store in conjunction with the release of Windows Phone 7 devices in October. By comparison, it had 4,000 available apps to download as of mid-December. Research firm IDC praised the quick ascent of the new OS's marketplace.

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By therealnickdanger on 1/12/2011 8:25:18 AM , Rating: 5
It's nice to see a filing with some common sense behind it. Let's just hope it has enough teeth.

RE: Good
By therealnickdanger on 1/12/2011 8:26:53 AM , Rating: 2
(I am, of course, referring to the motion filing by Microsoft.)

RE: Good
By vol7ron on 1/12/2011 9:37:18 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. The article put it well: a store where you can buy applications. Many of the trademarks that exist today are a mockery, in that someone can claim the English language.

Though Apple did make the abbreviation "App" popular, it was used long before to distinguish something other than an App-le product. Perhaps Wal-Mart might want to trademark "App Mart"

RE: Good
By tastyratz on 1/12/2011 11:20:15 AM , Rating: 1
I wonder if Microsoft can claim prior art?
I am sure there have been small time "app store" businesses that sold applications long before the iphone came around.

RE: Good
By The Raven on 1/12/2011 11:51:23 AM , Rating: 5
Though Apple did make the abbreviation "App" popular

The iPhone came out in 2007, no?

I recall Halo (2001) being referred to as a "killer app" when it came out. And that was used in the mainstream media when reporting such. That is the first that I personally can recall the media referring to a "killer app". And I know that people (who work with and buy computers anyway) had been using the term app long before that. I also, know that Lotus 1-2-3 was considered the IMB PC's killer app. But I'm young.

The iPhone was just a computer that was shiny enough to get naive people to be more interested in computers. (No offense to iPhone owners, this is in reference to the "bandwagoners" who are new to the game who only buy computers that are shiny.)

And that resulted in 'more' people throwing the term "app" around, but more importantly it gave the media some thing to repeat ad nauseum. The actual popularity came from the media. They won't shut up about things because they have 24 hrs to fill these days. And the term became popular.

The term "app" it is as generic as the terms used by Mozilla (add-on, extension, plugin) for Firefox. To bad Moz doesn't sell those. Then they could register something as generic as "Add-on Store".

But your point is that they made it more popular and not that they coined it. But I guess that is up for debate. So worst case scenario, I don't see how they can hold the rights to it.

I mean that would be like some guy writing a novel about swords of light called "lightsabres" and years later, GL writes and directs Star Wars and popularizes the term. He still doesn't get rights to it.

RE: Good
By davmat787 on 1/12/2011 2:00:50 PM , Rating: 3
++1 Well said.

Just read the above post and move on people.

RE: Good
By mead drinker on 1/12/2011 4:08:57 PM , Rating: 2
Yes but the differentiation here, as alluded to the poster before you, is that "App" in the context of application is generic and can be used by anyone; however, "App" as in the first three letters of the vendor's name is specific to their already existing trademark, and describes a place where products can be purchased. The App store is constantly evolving and I imagine at some point will replace the itunes store. When that occurs, media and other items will be sold not solely "apps", and it will cause a delineation from the generic term. The context of what was once a generic term changes as it now refers to the vendor's name.

RE: Good
By davmat787 on 1/12/2011 5:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
As I commented on below, I don't understand why Apple made no move to tie in the word app store with their own company name.

RE: Good
By davmat787 on 1/12/2011 5:11:50 PM , Rating: 1
If I understand your logic correctly, then Apple should not be able to use the word Micro.

RE: Good
By The Raven on 1/14/2011 5:28:03 PM , Rating: 2 what are Granny Smiths and Pink Ladies called now?

If this is true that Apple thinks they have some claim to words in the English language that start with APP then they should've thought of a more creative brand name. That is the downside of choosing something that is so easy for people to remember.

Or is this because APP accounts for 60% of their name? So Applebees (which APP only accounts for 33%) has no claim to this? And I know someone will say something about Applebees not being a tech company, but Apple has tried suing non-tech, non-competitors before.

Are you saying that if I start a company called Micadonics that makes microphones, then people would have to ask me permission before they called a microphone a mic? Since the company name starts with the same letters?

I think intellectual property and trademarks dress etc. should have a measure of protection like anyone else, but Apple has gone crazy with this crap. Especially when they don't even follow their own demented logic...

RE: Good
By miffedone on 1/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: Good
By DanNeely on 1/12/2011 9:07:16 AM , Rating: 1
Hypocrisy makes the world go round.

RE: Good
By RamarC on 1/12/2011 9:38:19 AM , Rating: 2
if the challenge fails, i'm gonna trademark "grocery store" and "department store." cha-ching!

RE: Good
By nafhan on 1/12/2011 9:41:45 AM , Rating: 2
"App" is a pretty natural abbreviation for application, and I definitely heard it used that way well before the iPhone came out. "App store" specifically was new to me, though. Before it had always been something like "software repository" or "Steam".
Anyway, there's countless other ridiculously generic terms that are trademarked. The word "Apple" for instance... That and the fact that it's MS leading the suit kind of makes me not care about this.

RE: Good
By vol7ron on 1/12/2011 9:43:31 AM , Rating: 2
Windows wasn't as common and the public wasn't as informed on technology then as it is today. Though, I think if "Windows" was singular it would've been rejected.

In today's world, you might have a point. Though, Windows is for an operating system built around the concept of the "window". "App Store" is for an applications store. If Microsoft just called there operating system "OS" (not OS/z or WebOS or iOS), then I think they would have been rejected.

RE: Good
By HighWing on 1/12/2011 10:19:03 AM , Rating: 5
The word 'app' wasn't common until Apple began using it.

That is were you are quite wrong, and saying such a thing only shows how young you really are.

The term "app" as in referring to a software application has been around for as long as there have been people writing software for computers. In other words, much longer than apple ever even dreamed of using it in the phrase "App Store" However the most common used form of it was in the phrase "Killer App", which you can find dates in the wiki article that clearly predate any notion of apple's App Store by decades!

Also, MS trade marking Windows is fairly different from Apple trade marking App Store. MS was trade marking the name of their software OS. Where as apple is trying to trademark a name for their store, which is to say, it's a name for their idea, and not software.

Furthermore MS didn't actively try to get people to stop calling things Windows. Whereas we all know if Apple wins this trademark, they will undoubtedly file a lawsuit against Google, MS, BlackBerry, and any other company using the phrase App Store.

And Finally, you are forgetting the very meaning of the word "Trademark"! In the case of MS using Windows, that was clearly the name or "mark" of their "trade" software. Whereas the term "App Store" is already not common to just Apple's iPhone application store. And the term "App" is by no means unique to Apple!

RE: Good
By omnicronx on 1/12/2011 11:36:26 AM , Rating: 3
Your analogy is hardly apples to apples.

Basically what Apple is doing would be akin to Microsoft trademarking the word "Windows" if they were in the windows business.

The word app is hardly an Apple invention, and has directly applied to the market at hand for quite some time.

RE: Good
By davmat787 on 1/12/2011 2:05:50 PM , Rating: 1
You really do not see a difference between Windows and app store? Windows is a product name, app store is not. Apple does not sell app stores.

I always wondered why Apple did not make some play on the fact the abbreviation 'app' is the first three letters of their name. Maybe Apple figured app store is generic and their users will immediallety realize that an app store is where one can purchase applications. Another generic term too.

RE: Good
By mead drinker on 1/12/2011 4:30:35 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't matter what the use of the term is as you can trademark the names of technology, products, store's, etc.

RE: Good
By masamasa on 1/12/2011 10:40:32 AM , Rating: 2

In other news...
By dj LiTh on 1/12/2011 9:28:08 AM , Rating: 2
And in other news apple has given in to pressure from microsoft about its "App Store" trade mark. It has gone on to file a new trade mark for the word "The". It will now be illegal for everyone to use the word "(OMITTED due to copyright infringement)" Unless you are referring to Apples products such as "The App Store", "The Iphone", etc. Apple goes on to say that (OMITTED due to copyright infringement) word was their's all along, they just forgot to tell anyone.

RE: In other news...
By vol7ron on 1/12/2011 9:47:05 AM , Rating: 2
It will now be illegal for everyone to use the word "(OMITTED due to copyright infringement)"

...good try

RE: In other news...
By gmyx on 1/12/2011 11:24:36 AM , Rating: 2
Not only that but Trademark =/= Copyright. Both IP related but not the same.

RE: In other news...
By dj LiTh on 1/12/2011 6:39:43 PM , Rating: 2
damn, now i'm gonna get sued ;)

By p05esto on 1/13/2011 12:01:48 AM , Rating: 3
Another reason I hate Apple so much and really have come to like and root much more for Microsoft these days. MS is like the rich, wise old grandfather and these Apple/Facebook/Google companies are like the "new money", spoiled and foolish youngsters.

By VoodooChicken on 1/12/2011 1:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
Will they have to change their name to something "trademarkable" like Kontainer? (*pukes*)

Generic terms...
By zaxxon on 1/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: Generic terms...
By Shadowself on 1/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: Generic terms...
By vol7ron on 1/12/2011 9:50:20 AM , Rating: 2
Window is not trademarked.. Window s is.

It's also important to note it only applies to the software industry. A whole other industry (dare I say window industry?) could coin the word.

RE: Generic terms...
By Shadowself on 1/12/2011 7:31:51 PM , Rating: 2
So when all of us back then, long before Microsoft filed for the trademark, were saying we had multiple "windows" open on our computer screen that does not count? That word *does* have an "s" at the end of it.

I thought it asinine back then for Microsoft to trademark "Windows" just as I believe it is asinine for Apple to try to trademark "App Store" now.

It is really fun to watch people try to justify Microsoft's actions while berating Apple. They are both in the wrong -- as was the USPTO.

It's even more interesting when I think that most of the posters on this thread were NOT computer users almost 30 years ago when I *was* using computers with multiple "window s " open concurrently. It was a generic term way back then. It should still be a generic term now.

RE: Generic terms...
By vol7ron on 1/12/2011 10:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
So when all of us back then, long before Microsoft filed for the trademark, were saying we had multiple "windows" open on our computer screen that does not count?

No. I don't even understand the point you're trying to make.

That's like, when Newton was talking about that thing that fell from a tree, that doesn't count? It was an apple then, it's an Apple now.

RE: Generic terms...
By SoCalBoomer on 2/7/2011 5:35:28 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously - you were using Windows in 1980, before the Macintosh? Shenanigans. . .

I *WAS* using computers in 1980 and they were almost entirely CP/M with absolutely no windows, merely a C> prompt; OR a DOS machine or Apple II. Certainly not anything with a GUI.

Unless you were working for Xerox PARC, you weren't working on Windows back then. Mac wasn't until 84 and we weren't calling them windows then, really, and not using multiple ones since 128K wasn't enough to do much of anything, and no HDD meant using floppies so having multiple windows open was pretty useless. . .

BTW - you also seem to forget that Apple sued HP over the use of the term windows. . . evil when MS does it (trademarks it) but not when Apple does (sues)?

Windows 1 was announced before the Mac came out and was released just after - so they're all pretty close to the vest (although MS Win 1 sucked) and the trademark gotten in 91, during the Windows 3 era.

Don't be tossing numbers around if there's questionable facts to support them. You weren't using "window S " thirty years ago unless you were among a VERY small and VERY elite group (which I doubt as you'd be VERY rich right now as they all are. . .)

RE: Generic terms...
By SJBMusic on 1/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: Generic terms...
By erikstarcher on 1/13/2011 1:01:16 PM , Rating: 1
But Microsoft's trademark on "Windows" is only for an operating system. Beyond the operating system, the word is freely usable. Just like Word for a word processor, but in no other use. If Apple says that you can open multiple windows on their system, and each window can have a word in it, Microsoft can do nothing about it. It is all in the context used.

RE: Generic terms...
By soydios on 1/12/2011 8:50:19 AM , Rating: 2
It's the context

RE: Generic terms...
By tng on 1/12/2011 10:06:08 AM , Rating: 2

I would point out that while MS would probably not sue over something containing the word "Windows" when it is used to describe a feature of your house. If someone found a novel and popular way to use "App" in something completely unrelated to software, Apple would probably sue.

Just my gut feeling on that. It seems that Apple has become the giant corporate bully that we would all demonize if they sold say, petroleum products.

RE: Generic terms...
By INeedCache on 1/13/2011 8:47:10 AM , Rating: 2
I think Apple will get rejected. However, should they be successful, what would be fun would be to see the petroleum industry use "app" or "app store" (although insanely unlikely) just to see what Apple would do. Because anyone who knows anything about the petroleum industry knows they rule with the deepest pockets in the world by far, and would completely bury Apple. Heck, they would just buy Apple out of their petty cash fund.

RE: Generic terms...
By Gio6518 on 1/14/2011 12:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
Wait a minute did you forget about Lindows

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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