Amazon has fired back at Apple over the rights to trademark "app store," as Amazon's Appstore for Android positions to battle Apple's App Store.
Amazon.com has filed a counterclaim to
Apple's lawsuit over the term "app store," which the online retailer
argues is a term too generic for trademarking.
Apple originally filed a lawsuit
against Amazon March 18, claiming the rights to "app store" in the wake
of the online retailer's launch of an Appstore for Android
. That storefront exists
independently from Android Marketplace, the cloud-based bazaar that offers
hundreds of thousands of apps for Android-based smartphones and tablets.
Amazon isn't the first company to lock
horns with the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant over "app store." Microsoft and Apple are already locked in battle
over the latter's idea to trademark the term, with Microsoft arguing in a
filing before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trial and Appeal Board
that "app store" is "generic for retail store services featuring
apps and unregisterable for ancillary services such as searching for and
downloading apps from such stores."
Now, Amazon is making similar claims
that "app store" is a term too generic for one company to trademark.
"Defendants admit that Amazon has
not received a license or authorization from Apple to use the term -app store,'"
reads Amazon's response
, "and contend that
no such license or authorization is required because 'app store' is a generic
term, and Amazon's use of the term causes no likelihood of confusion, dilution,
or unfair competition."
Amazon then launched a counterclaim
against Apple, asking the court to dismiss the latter's trademark claims to the
term "app store." The online retailer also asked that Apple pay
attorney's fees and expenses, along with "any such other and further
relief as the court deems appropriate."
The counterclaim boils everything down
"Based on their common meaning,
the words 'app store' together denote a store for apps, such as the app stores
operated by Amazon and Apple," the filing continues. "The American
Dialect Society, a leading group of U.S. linguists, recently voted 'app' as the
'Word of the Year' for 2010, noting that although the word 'has been around for
ages,' it 'really exploded in the last 12 months.'"
Indeed, it adds, "the words 'app
store' are commonly used among many businesses competing in the app store
Both Amazon and Microsoft face
something of an uphill battle against Apple's App Store, which contains the
most apps by volume. Apple has already started expanding the app store
franchise beyond mobile devices to its Mac line of PCs, with a Mac App Store
that offers full-screen apps. The storefront operates in a similar manner to
Apple's App Store for iOS, allowing users to purchase and download apps in one
click. The Mac App Store will prove an integral part of the company's upcoming
Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion."
Microsoft argued in its own case
that the 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." In light of
that, the counsel argued, Apple should be denied a lock on the name.
Apple begged to differ.
"Microsoft, missing the forest for
the trees, does not base its motion on a comprehensive evaluation of how the
relevant public understands the term APP STORE as a whole," reads a Feb.
28 filing by Apple with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. "What it
offers instead are out-of-context and misleading snippets of material printed
by its outside counsel from the Internet and allegations regarding how the
public allegedly interprets the constituent parts of the term APP STORE, i.e., 'app'
If nothing else, these cases stand to
give everyone an exhaustive lesson in linguistics.