Apple Lashes at Microsoft's App Store Trademark Claims

Apple fired back at Microsoft's legal attempts to deny it a trademark on the term "app store," in a legal motion that takes its archrival to task.

Apple has fired back against Microsoft's attempts to deny it the trademark to the term "app store."

In a Feb. 28 filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple seeks to not only undermine its rival's argument, but also deliver a few rhetorical jabs.

Microsoft's original filing asked the federal agency's Trial and Appeal Board to deny "app store" to Apple on the grounds 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."
Microsoft's counsel claimed at the time that "app store" was 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, it argued, Apple should be denied an exclusive lock on the name.

Apple is begging 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 the filing. "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' and 'store.'"

Those snippets of material, it adds, fail to carry the weight of the argument: "Recognizing the many issues of fact raised by its motion and trying to sidestep them, Microsoft also concocts the argument that all 'store' formative marks such as APP STORE should be per se generic." Therefore, Microsoft fails in its attempt "to create a new genericness standard."

Microsoft's recently released Windows Phone 7 boasts an online marketplace of 5,500 apps and growing. Despite the company's newfound aggression in the mobile space, it faces something of an uphill battle against both Apple's iOS and Google Android, which have sold millions of units over the past few years.

Meanwhile, Apple is expanding its app-store franchise to its Mac line, with a Mac App Store that offers full-screen apps for the company's PCs. The storefront operates in a manner similar to Apple's App Store for mobile devices, 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.