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Microsoft Seeks to Block Apple App Store Trademark

Microsoft Seeks to Block Apple App Store Trademark

If Microsoft's action is successful, third parties will be free to call their services 'App Stores.'

If someone mentions 'App Store,' most people's immediate reaction is to think of Apple, and the company has applied to trademark the term in order to cement that relationship in law. Microsoft, however, has other plans.

Although Apple's trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) goes back to 2008, Microsoft has filed an opposition to the application.

In its filing with the USPTO, Microsoft argues that both 'app' and 'store' are generic terms in general use and thus not valid for trademark protection.

Microsoft argues in its complaint that '"app store" is a generic name that Apple should not be permitted to usurp for its exclusive use. Competitors should be free to use 'app store' to identify their own stores and the services offered in conjunction with those stores.'

The company also uses Apple's Steve Jobs' own words against him, citing a response given by Jobs during an interview in which he stated that 'Amazon, Verizon and Vodafone have all announced that they are creating their own app stores for Android' - using his own supposedly trademarked terminology to refer to rival services.

Microsoft's complaint has been noted by the USPTO, which indicates that an opposition has been filed and is pending review by the trial board. It has not, however, offered any indication of the likelihood of Microsoft's approach succeeding.

Should Apple be allowed to trademark 'App Store,' or is the phrase indeed generic? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

36 Comments

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Skiddywinks 12th January 2011, 14:22 Quote
Frankly, I would have hoped the application for trademark was refused anyway, but it can't hurt to have a big player raising the complaint.
shigllgetcha 12th January 2011, 14:33 Quote
thankfully someone is happy to stand up against apple in the courtroom. shame its MS but still...
jamie_macdonald 12th January 2011, 14:50 Quote
"shame it's MS"

Why's that ... as far as i can tell they have allways stuck up for their and our rights as consumers (the only iffy stuff was back in the DOS days was it not?).

Good to see them doing it they way it should be done ^^ ...That best go through cause the patent an idea or phrase thing is getting ridiculous and will only cause us all much grief (apart from lawyers who will earn alot!).
Snips 12th January 2011, 14:55 Quote
Looks like Jobs has shot himself in the foot with that statement. When the companies mouth piece is using the very terminology Microsoft has come up with, can't see Apple winning this one.
l3v1ck 12th January 2011, 14:59 Quote
I'm with MS on this one.
Material 12th January 2011, 15:00 Quote
Apple seem incredibly trademark and patent happy at the moment. We'll have to pay them a royalty to breath soon.
Cupboard 12th January 2011, 15:20 Quote
Claiming rights to what is a shortening of "application store" is quite silly. Stores, applications and stores that sell applications have been around for ages!
Nexxo 12th January 2011, 15:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamie_macdonald
"shame it's MS"

Why's that ... as far as i can tell they have allways stuck up for their and our rights as consumers (the only iffy stuff was back in the DOS days was it not?).

Good to see them doing it they way it should be done ^^ ...That best go through cause the patent an idea or phrase thing is getting ridiculous and will only cause us all much grief (apart from lawyers who will earn alot!).

Don't be naive. This is just a turf fight between two corporations. Our 'rights' don't come into it. Neither is Microsoft taking a moral stance. Need I remind you of the Mike Rowe Soft saga?
Snips 12th January 2011, 15:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamie_macdonald
"shame it's MS"

Why's that ... as far as i can tell they have allways stuck up for their and our rights as consumers (the only iffy stuff was back in the DOS days was it not?).

Good to see them doing it they way it should be done ^^ ...That best go through cause the patent an idea or phrase thing is getting ridiculous and will only cause us all much grief (apart from lawyers who will earn alot!).

Don't be naive. This is just a turf fight between two corporations. Our 'rights' don't come into it. Neither is Microsoft taking a moral stance. Need I remind you of the Mike Rowe Soft saga?

Let's also not forget the Mike got a hell of alot more out of it than Microsoft ever did.
dactone 12th January 2011, 16:05 Quote
whats an app store ? is that where you get ''applications'' for you android win7 or iphone or whatever else uses applications? you can't tradmark mark app store haha! i bet you couldn't even trademark apple store immagine some poor guy decides to sell his apples in his apple store that he grew on his apple trees thats called the apple store .......... never mind.
Nexxo 12th January 2011, 16:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
Let's also not forget the Mike got a hell of alot more out of it than Microsoft ever did.

That is kind of beside the point. Mike was minding his own business; Microsoft picked a fight with him in an attempt to copyright the phonetic pronunciation of its brand name.
VipersGratitude 12th January 2011, 16:11 Quote
Apple! The company is called Apple! And the case is that "app store" is a generic term???
How do you like them Malus Domesticas?
Volund 12th January 2011, 16:38 Quote
trademarking "app store" is the same as a food store (Hannaford for example) trying to trademark "supermarket", it is such a generic term that I am surprised the Patent and trademark office didn't throw out the application immediately.

If they had called their app store "iAppcentral" or something even remotely creative then sure, let them trademark it, but this really doesn't deserve any of our tax dollars spent on it.
B1GBUD 12th January 2011, 17:03 Quote
I hope Apple get laughed out of court on this one, much like the way they wanted to trademark the letter "i" if used infront of another word.
law99 12th January 2011, 17:10 Quote
"Ass Store"
jrs77 12th January 2011, 17:22 Quote
If it was up to me, then I'd burn 75% of all patends to start with. Patends for names and general ideas should never be granted in the first place.

All these patends for general ideas are totally ruining the world. Patends should only be granted for specific stuff, like a physical mechanism, or chemical stuff etc.
Ontop of that, patends should only last a maximum of 10-15 years before they become public knowledge and are free to use by everyone.

The rest is covered by intellectual property rights.

Death to patends!
lamboman 12th January 2011, 17:27 Quote
To be honest...while I do think of Apple's own App Store first, the fact is that the word really has become a generic term referring to applications on any platform.

And Jobs said it himself, according to MS. If this is true, depending on how he said it, this alone should mean that Apple shouldn't be allowed to file this...
Centy-face 12th January 2011, 17:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material
Apple seem incredibly trademark and patent happy at the moment. We'll have to pay them a royalty to breath soon.

Don't you mean iBreath?
Snips 12th January 2011, 17:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
Let's also not forget the Mike got a hell of alot more out of it than Microsoft ever did.

That is kind of beside the point. Mike was minding his own business; Microsoft picked a fight with him in an attempt to copyright the phonetic pronunciation of its brand name.

I completely understand what you are saying but this is kinda different since Jobs himself used the term in describing the competition. It's not the "App" in Apple, it's the "App" in application.

Mike Rowe knew he was playing with the name Microsoft. However, I'm sure he's smiling now. Lucky son of a &@%$#!
Valinor 12th January 2011, 17:47 Quote
Apple will probably want to take this to the iCourt...

In other news, I agree with the general consensus that Apple shouldn't be allowed this trademark.
riggs 12th January 2011, 19:54 Quote
"App" and "store", generic terms? What, like "windows", "word", "excel" & "office"?
alf- 12th January 2011, 20:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by riggs
"App" and "store", generic terms? What, like "windows", "word", "excel" & "office"?

well yes the term appstore is pretty generic.

whereas windows isn't a generic term for a operating system
and excel isn't a generic term for a spreadsheet application.

office is a generic term for a office suite, just look at the number of available applications that are called office suites, there are dozens of them.

it may come down to whether the court deems the app store as a generic term for what the app store is, and i suspect they will.
tristanperry 12th January 2011, 21:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by riggs
"App" and "store", generic terms? What, like "windows", "word", "excel" & "office"?
Trademarks are all about the context.

Before Microsoft, "windows", "word", "excel" and "office" weren't words meaning an OS, word processing, spreadsheet and desktop suite (respectively). Microsoft took these words, used them in a different way/context, and thus were able to TM them in this new way/context.

And clearly, these words are only TMed within this context. So you couldn't create a spreadsheet package and call it Excel. You could, though, setup a business/piece of software in hundreds of non-spreadsheet niches and have Excel in the name. Since, again it's all about the context.

Which is how, e.g., Games Workshop hold the TM for the term "Tau" (in a tabletop wargaming context). Obviously this doesn't mean that Tau is no longer a letter of the Greek alphabet or the name of the Tel-Aviv University.

Again, it's all about the context.

In the case of "app store", an app is well known as a general application/piece of software. And an app store - obviously - sells apps.

Apple didn't create the term "app store" in this context (since it's generic and existed before Apple started using this phrase), and hence to allow a TM for it would be insane.

It seems pretty arrogant of Apple to try and trademark this term. Here's hoping it gets turned down.
LordPyrinc 13th January 2011, 01:58 Quote
Ridiculous patent request.
Guinevere 13th January 2011, 04:36 Quote
It's not a patent request (or a patend) it's a trademark application. As far as I'm aware, apple were the first people to use the specific term of "app store" in an offical name, although I doubt they were the first to glue those to words together in that context, which makes it a crappy application.

So given that Apple "were first" and let's face it, they did create the entire "app" industry (in the context of easy to access on demand low cost mobile apps for jor everyman), I'm afraid the trademark could well be granted. (but it wouldn't if I was Queen of the world)

Not that it'll make the blindest bit of difference to how people talk about the app store on their Win7 phones, but it could force companies to come up with their own names.

Like Valve and Steam - Now that's a brilliant combination that works together.

Taking that line of association what would other companies use...

Windows could have - Air (Maybe do a deal with Adobe)
Sun could have - Photons
Adobe could have - Mud houses (Hmmm have to work on that one)
Google could have - Millions (? tricky one)
RIM / Blackberry could have - Juice
Amazon could have - Pygmies (Or Piranhas)
fluxtatic 13th January 2011, 06:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
It's not a patent request (or a patend) it's a trademark application.

Thank you for pointing that out (come on, people, why did it take that long?)

A trademark is 'a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.' (thanks, Wikipedia) Patents cover inventions and methods (like the moron who patented swinging side-to-side on a swing, one of the better examples of how broken the US patent system has become.)

Personally, I find it funny that MS is the one objecting, but doesn't try to use the term itself. It has a Zune Marketplace (they do still have that, right?). If anything, I would have thought Google would be the objector here.

At any rate, it's incredibly arrogant of Apple, but does it honestly surprise anyone? Thinking on it now, the only surprise is that they didn't try to stick an 'i' in the name somewhere.
outlawaol 13th January 2011, 07:26 Quote
All I know is that the trademark banter is really getting to the point that people are nearly no longer speaking English. You can (practically) hold an entire conversation now without using words from the English language. I especially detest marketing slogans that combine words to make up some new word - they think its clever, I think its a slap in the intellectual face of mankind.

Marketing slogans, Trademarks - ultimately a way to sell you some sh!t you really dont need...
Edwards 13th January 2011, 08:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
Personally, I find it funny that MS is the one objecting, but doesn't try to use the term itself. It has a Zune Marketplace (they do still have that, right?). If anything, I would have thought Google would be the objector here.

Why? Google's 'app store' is known as the marketplace.

This is as ridiculous as Apple trying to have exclusivity over the letter 'i' as a prefix to anything. You have to wonder who is getting paid to sit about and come up with crap like this to waste their time. I want that guy's job "TM iElectricity? why not!, patent magnets? sure."
raxonb 13th January 2011, 10:23 Quote
Steve Jobs is an iPrick, being mild. Next he will try to patent the word "apple" and force the world to come up with a new name for the fruit.
WarrenJ 13th January 2011, 11:47 Quote
iSac Newton wont be amused.
maximus09 13th January 2011, 12:05 Quote
I'm with MS on this one! I just hope that they win and then decided not to use "app store" for their app store. Maybe something else like:

Wapp Store?
Mapp Store
M.A.C Store (Microsoft App Central) lol that would be two fingers to apple ;)
Nexxo 13th January 2011, 13:47 Quote
Perhaps Microsoft should spend all that time and money developing and marketing their own Zune store. All this lawsuit does is put Apple's app store more firmly on the public's consciousness.

Guinevere is right. Microsoft needs to just come up with its own resonant name.

It's a pity that Microsoft decided to refer to the squares in Windows Mobile 7 as 'tiles'. Should have called them 'panes' (window panes, see what I did there?). Since the GUI is called 'Metro', the shop could be 'Metro Station'. A physical Microsoft outlet could be a 'Metro Cafe'. The equivalent of Apple Geniuses could be Microsoft Barrista's. They could actually serve coffee at the same counter that they help you with your software queries/needs.
memeroot 13th January 2011, 14:25 Quote
Isn't it a little like hoover Hoover
iwog 14th January 2011, 10:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by memeroot
Isn't it a little like hoover Hoover

No, Hoover was a trade mark that became genericized. Like biro, tip-ex, pogo stick. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genericized_trademark
kenco_uk 14th January 2011, 10:54 Quote
Is there an app for that?
Mighty Yoshimi 14th January 2011, 15:35 Quote
"Apple App Store" - Trademarkable.
"App Store" - Too generic.

Simple
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