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A judge ruled that Apple's case that Amazon infringed its "App Store" trademark was too weak to grant a preliminary injunction.
Early setback could prove troubling later in the case

Two weeks ago we reported that Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) lawsuit against Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) in Oakland, California federal court was going nowhere fast.  Upset about Amazon's use of the term "Appstore" ("Appstore for Android"), Apple sued claiming Amazon had infringed on its trademark "App Store". 

It sought an injunction forcing Amazon to temporarily cease using the name while the case was decided.  However, the presiding judge said at the time that Apple's evidence of customer confusion was weak and that they were considering denying the motion.

Now Judge Phyllis Hamilton has made good on that threat, smacking down Apple's request for a preliminary injunction.

Apple's case seems to be going nowhere.  Judge Hamilton reaffirmed on Wednesday that Apple had failed to present compelling evidence that customers would confuse Amazon's store for Apple's, or vice versa.  The judge also expressed skepticism over the last several weeks about Apple's arguments that the trademark was non-generic.

A trial is set to begin October 2012.

While the preliminary injunction does not officially affect the trial outcome, it does set the mood for the trial.  Preliminary injunctions (PI) are typically granted if the evidence is strong or there's a compelling case that irreparable damage will occur if the injunction isn't granted.  A denial of a PI request can have the opposite effect -- it can indicate pre-trial that the case is weak and that the alleged harm isn't great.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is currently in the midst of a lawsuit it filed against Apple on the grounds that the term "App Store" was overly generic.  

The outcome of these trials could affect many players in the industry.  Apple has fired off many cease and desist letters, including ones to the owner of pcappstore.com, and open source startup Amahi.





“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads



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