backtop


Print 51 comment(s) - last by sprockkets.. on Mar 25 at 10:13 PM


Amazon's "Appstore for Android" and Apple's "iTunes App Store", side by side in web form.

  (Source: 20th Century Fox)
Lawsuit is a major test of generic trademarks in the tech industry

Amazon.com, Inc., the U.S.'s largest e-tailer, refused to listen to Apple, Inc.  After all Apple couldn't possibly think it could legally enforce its "ownership" of the term "app store" could it?

Well Amazon.com tested Apple's resolve, rolling out a third-party app store for Android (Google allows such things), dubbed "Appstore for Android".  The new app store launched today featuring over 3,800 apps, including Angry Birds: RIO, which is available for one day only as a free promotional download.

Apparently Apple deemed that term was sufficiently close to "App Store", for which it was granted a trademark.  It filed suit in northern California federal court.

Apple is seeking unspecified damages and an immediate cease and desist, preventing Amazon from using the name.  Apple's lawyers write, "Amazon has begun improperly using Apple’s App Store mark in connection with Amazon’s mobile-software developer program.  Amazon has unlawfully used the App Store mark to solicit software developers throughout the United States."

The gadget maker may be hoping to have a home court legal advantage.  Amazon.com is based out of Seattle, Washington.  Companies often try to press intellectual property cases in their home state.  While there is supposedly no bias, the local company often wins.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple states, "We’ve asked Amazon not to copy the App Store name because it will confuse and mislead customers."

Apple says in the court filing that it contacted Amazon.com with threats three times and only filed the suit after it failed to respond.

The suit raises serious question about whether trademarks on generic terms inherently associated with a type of business are unfair.  In recent years the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted many such trademarks.  

For example, Apple owns the terms "App Store"  (applications are a general term for software) and "iMovie" (here the letter 'i' was merely appending on the word movie for a movie related software).  Similarly, Adobe owns the term "Illustrator" (illustration is a term meaning "drawing" and all drawing programs acts as an "illustrator", so to speak).  And Microsoft owns the names "Windows" (all modern operating systems feature windows) and "Word" (all word processors use words).

The issue of generic trademarks definitely needs to be resolved, as these lawsuits not only wreak havoc in the business world, but also cost the public tax money, as the federal court system where they're contested isn't free by any means.  In the meantime, it should be interesting to see how Apple's crusade against Amazon.com goes.

Apple was passed by Android last year in U.S. and global sales. 

Microsoft is currently suing Apple, claiming the term "App Store" is too generic and was improperly granted a trademark by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: speaking of generic trademarks
By Misty Dingos on 3/22/2011 12:03:55 PM , Rating: 2
I could be completely wrong here. So feel free to ravage my rating and call me names.

But the more a copy written term or phrase is used without action being taken by the copyright owner the harder it is for them to continue to maintain the copyright. The result being that copyright becomes without merit.

So if Apple does not release its team of cybernetic lawyers to savage anyone and anything they see as infringing on their turf, they essentially loose their copyright.

So no one should be surprised by continued jackassery of the Apple corporation. They are just keeping their lawyers from turning on their corporate overlords which is what bored cybernetic lawyers like to do.


RE: speaking of generic trademarks
By Motoman on 3/22/2011 12:16:51 PM , Rating: 3
Wrong. Just like Monster Cable isn't in the right by suing a mini-golf course called "Monster Golf" just because it has the word "monster" in it.

Frivolous lawsuits are frivolous.


RE: speaking of generic trademarks
By Misty Dingos on 3/22/11, Rating: -1
RE: speaking of generic trademarks
By Motoman on 3/22/2011 1:37:51 PM , Rating: 2
...at this point the entirety of the internet is aware that you should be discounted...in your entirety.


RE: speaking of generic trademarks
By Solandri on 3/22/2011 2:59:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So if Apple does not release its team of cybernetic lawyers to savage anyone and anything they see as infringing on their turf, they essentially loose their copyright.

What you're saying does not apply to copyright. Failing to enforce your copyright does not mean you lose it.

It is, however, true for patents and trademarks. You have to enforce those. If a court finds you haven't been defending your trademark or patent in a timely manner, you can lose them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laches_%28equity%29

That said, people's gripe with Apple here is not that they are defending a trademark, but that the trademarked name is way too generic.


RE: speaking of generic trademarks
By bah12 on 3/22/2011 5:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That said, people's gripe with Apple here is not that they are defending a trademark, but that the trademarked name is way too generic.
True, but to his point even if it is generic, if they have any hopes of keeping it they must try to defend/enforce it.

Just don't point the finger at Apple, point it at the fubard trademark office. Hell if they gave me a trademark for the letter T, it would be foolish of me not to try and keep it. Can't really blame the appholes for trying to defend this, makes perfect sense to do so.


"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki