Apple failed in court to block Amazon.com from using the term "Appstore" to describe its app storefront. Apple is trying to lock down the rights to "App Store."
Apple wanted a U.S. District judge to immediately halt
Amazon.com's use of the term "Appstore."
The judge said, "No."
That's the latest twist in the trademark-infringement
lawsuit leveled by Apple against Amazon. Both companies offer online
storefronts for mobile applications. However, Apple claims that customers could
confuse Amazon's "Appstore" with its own "App Store."
But U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled against
Apple, stating in a July 6 order that Apple had not demonstrated the potential
for confusion with Amazon's storefront. Despite Amazon's win-which will allow
it to continue using "Appstore"-the retailer still faces trial in October
Amazon has claimed that "app store" is too generic a term for
one company to trademark.
"Defendants admit that Amazon has not received a license or
authorization from Apple to use the term -app store,'" read Amazon's April
response to Apple's lawsuit, "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."
At the time, Amazon 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
Amazon's counterclaim boils down to linguistics:
"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 continued. "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.'"
Amazon isn't the first company to lock horns with Apple over
the trademark to the term "app store." Microsoft and Apple are already locked
in battle over the latter's desire for the trademark, 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."
The Apple vs. Amazon case is filed with the U.S. District
Court, Northern District of California under Apple Inc. v. Amazon.com Inc,
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.