Apple, Amazon Ordered to Try to Settle App Store Lawsuits: Report

Apple sued Amazon in 2011, arguing that the "app store" moniker belongs to Apple. Amazon countersued, and now a judge wants both sides to talk it out.

Apple and Amazon have been fighting a legal battle for almost two years over the use of the term "app store" to describe their online stores that sell apps and other content to consumers and businesses. Now a federal judge is ordering the two companies to try to reach a settlement to put the disagreement behind them, according to Bloomberg News.

"U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte in San Francisco directed the companies to confer on March 21 and to bring their lead attorneys and people who have full authority to negotiate and settle the case," Bloomberg reported Jan. 15. The case, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is scheduled for trial in August.

Apple sued Amazon for trademark infringement in early 2011 over the use of the term "app store." Amazon countersued a short time later.

Apple originally filed suit against Amazon March 18, 2011, 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.

In its countersuit, Amazon argued that "app store" is a term too generic for one company to trademark.

Apple maintains that Amazon's use of the name "app store" for the Android marketplace infringes on Apple's App Store trademark.

Amazon isn't the first to lock horns with the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant over "app store." Microsoft and Apple are also in a battle over Apple's idea to try to trademark the term.

The war over app stores is likely to continue to escalate due to their increasing value, sales and visibility for each brand.

In a recent study from ABI Research, Apple's App Store won the top rankings for the best and easiest app store for consumers, while Google's Android Play Store came in second. Microsoft's Windows Phone Store ranked third, according to ABI's report, which looked at how app stores implement their offerings to consumers and at their innovation in presentation and approach.

"In terms of implementation, Apple came first, ahead of Google and RIM," the report said. Apple's "superior performance in this dimension is mainly down to its effective approach to monetization, large market share over the app industry, and the ability to achieve a large inventory of titles while maintaining a reasonably strict quality control."

But when it comes to innovation, Microsoft narrowly beat Apple, and Google claimed the third spot, according to the report.

Apple has been leading the mobile app store revenue wars for some time. In November 2012, research firm App Annie reported that Apple's App Store revenues for October totaled four times the revenue brought in by Google's Android Play Store for the same period.

At the same time, Google's Play Store was making great progress, according to App Annie, with a huge 311 percent growth rate since January, setting the stage for interesting competition between the two vendors.

App Annie, which has been following the app store marketplace for the past 18 months, reported that it sees Apple and Google ultimately reaching equilibrium at some point in the future.

In its 16-page App Annie Index Report for November, the firm stated that the Play Store catch-up to the Apple App Store is under way. While Google Play paid revenue grew by 311 percent since January, Apple's paid revenue grew by only 12.9 percent, according to the study.

The Google Play Store was only officially created in March 2012 to combine what until then were separate sites where Android lovers could buy their favorite apps, music and ebooks. Before Google Play, users had to shop through the individual Android Market, Google Music and the Google e-Bookstore sites.

In September 2012, Google's Play Store attained an impressive milestone when it reached the 25 billion download mark for content purchased through the store—after only six months of sales.

According to Google, it reached the 1 billion Android app download mark in mid-2010, while it hit the 2 billion app download mark in mid-2011. That number soared to 10 billion by the end of 2011, then to 15 billion in early 2012, before soaring again to 25 million in September.

Apple's App Store just celebrated its fourth birthday in July and now includes more than 567,000 applications for the iPhone and 236,000 for the iPad, as of June. The App Store started with 500 apps in July 2008 when it was launched.