Microsoft has filed an objection to Apple's attempt to trademark the term "app store," according to legal documents.
Apple wants to trademark the term "app store," but not if
Microsoft can throw a legal barrier in its path.
Apple originally filed its trademark request July 2008,
within weeks of its App Store launch. The App Store offers hundreds of
thousands of apps for the company's mobile devices, including the iPhone and
iPad, outpacing similar efforts by Google, Microsoft and Research In Motion.
Now Microsoft's apparently decided to push back, with news
of its latest filing widely circulating among the online tech media.
"Microsoft opposes Apple's Application Serial No. 77/525433
for APP STORE," reads the company's Jan.
10 motion for summary judgment
, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, "on the grounds that -app store' is
generic for retail store services featuring apps and unregistrable for
ancillary services such as searching for and downloading apps from such
Furthermore, insists Microsoft's legal counsel, "The
undisputed facts further show that the combined term -app store' is commonly
used in the trade, by the general press, by consumers, by Apple's competitors
and even by Apple's founder and CEO Steve Jobs, as the generic name for online
stores featuring apps." Therefore, it adds, Apple should not have an exclusive
lock on the name.
"An opposition is now pending at the Trademark Trial and
Appeal Board," reads the "Current Status" for Apple's
on the U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office's Website
Apple and Verizon Wireless executives took to a stage in New
York City Jan. 11 to unveil an
iPhone running on the latter's CDMA-based network
. That breaks AT&T's
long-held exclusivity for the smartphone in the United States, and it could
drive a heightened rate of adoption that, in turn, could boost the number of
third-party developers crafting apps for the company's App Store.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's recently released Windows Phone 7
boasts an online marketplace of 5,500 apps and growing. Unlike the iPhone and
Google Android devices, Windows Phone 7 smartphones consolidate Web content and
apps into a series of subject-specific "Hubs" with labels such as "Games" and
"People." During his Jan. 5 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the audience: "More than half our
customers downloaded a new application today."
Despite Microsoft's newfound aggression in the mobile space,
it faces something of an uphill battle against Apple's iOS and Android, which
have respectively sold millions of units over the past few years. Microsoft
claims that manufacturers have sold some 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 units to
retailers, although it remains unclear how many of those devices have found
their way into consumers' hands.