Apple Threatens Wireless Industry Group For Daring To List Out Other App Stores

from the it's-generic,-get-used-to-it dept

As we've been discussing, Apple is on a quixotic battle to claim that "App Store" really stands for Apple Store, and that only it can use the obviously generic phrase. It's even sued Amazon over this, leading to Amazon's wonderful response in which it quoted Steve Jobs using the term "app store" to refer to other app stores.

And, now, just as Apple was pushing its new iOS strategy, it also sent the Wireless Industry Partnership a cease-and-desist, because it has an excellent App Store Catalog that provides a list of alternative app stores, as well as its App Store Reports, which provides some data and information about the various app stores to developers, who might find such info quite useful.

It's hard to see this as anything other than garden variety, obnoxious trademark bullying on the part of Apple. WIP isn't competing with Apple. There is absolutely no likelihood of confusion here. Apple's just being obnoxious.

WIP hasn't quite figured out how it's going to respond to the legal threat directly, but it did use the opportunity to point out how Apple seems to be attacking this resource for developers at a time when it claims that it's helping developers... and then lists out a bunch of other ways that Apple has become extremely anti-developer:

We provide the App Store Catalog and the App Store Report as resources for developers who want to succeed, to earn a living, and to have their work enjoyed by people around the world. It is a fact that the world of mobile app distribution is highly fragmented and that not every mobile phone user has an iOS device. This means there are a wide array of "application download services" out there that developers need to consider to widely distribute their apps, and the Catalog and Report have been very well received as a resource to help them do so. Despite Apple's attempts through trademark to create the impression that it's the only game in town, it's not. Developers need resources such as these, and they've been very warmly received. Perhaps that's part of the problem.

It's a bit ironic that just as Apple flashes that $2.5 billion payout figure -- one for which it should be applauded -- it's also taken several steps that many see as thwarting developers' success:

  • Obsoleting several third-party apps by building their functionality into iOS 5
  • Allegedly keeping apps out of the App Store if they compete too closely with Apple's own software
  • Shutting down pay-per-install marketing systems
  • Rejecting apps because they include a particular feature, then later adding that feature to the OS
  • Squeezing developers and publishers with its in-app payment policies

And now it hits out at our attempts to support developers by helping them navigate the maze of distribution channels available to them -- including all the alternate channels outside of Apple's own (trademarked) App Store. Apple's repeated actions to wield control over its own ecosystem creates the impression that the developers in it live at Apple's behest; its attempt to control the generic term "app store" suggests that it's trying to extend that control beyond its own ecosystem as well.

Apple can get away with pissing off developers for now, but, at some point, this is going to come back and bite them hard. And, seriously, does it really make that big of a difference if others use the term "App Store"? Honestly, going after WIP for this seems likely to do a lot more damage to Apple's relationship with developers than the idea that someone else might use the very generic and descriptive term "app store."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    When did they do that?

    "It's hard to see this as anything other than garden variety, obnoxious trademark bullying on the part of Apple."

    Apple trademarked bullying? I don't think they can do..OW!!!WTH??

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    girlzluvme, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 1:50pm

    seriously

    'tech' and 'dirt' are common words in the dictionary. But that doesn't mean you want others using it for profit especially since it could dilute your brand or even confuse your hard work for work of a lesser standard. Its only common sense really. "its my idea, get your own"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    That's why I'll call it the Crapp Store from now on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: seriously

    I'm practically tech illiterate and even I know that "app" stands for "application", not Apple - never has and never will.

    There is no confusion except on the part of Apple's legal dept.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Certainly Apple isn't claiming or even implying that their tag line "There's an app for that" is an abbreviated form of "There's an Apple for that", right?!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:00pm

    Re: seriously

    Yes, but Techdirt is not a generic term, and 'app store' IS. Fail well, girlzluvme coughnotheydontachem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    girls love me, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:03pm

    Re: seriously

    Similar to how I'm taking your screen name, spelling it correctly and using it now to better advertise my abilities as a girl magnet though my obviously superior grasp of the english language?

    Think of all the hard work you wasted when the ladies come knocking on my door!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:22pm

    Crazy Apple Trademark List

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Crazy Apple Trademark List

    Thanks, I needed to drive home dizzy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Crazy Apple Trademark List

    According to said list trademarks are adjectives - therefore App - used as a noun - is not a trademark.
    Doesn't that leave WIP in the clear.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Crazy Apple Trademark List

    Interestingly, neither "app store" or "App store" are in that list.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Crazy Apple Trademark List

    Instruments
    Carbon
    Capitals
    Charcoal
    Jam Pack
    Numbers
    Sand

    Now those all seem rather ridiculous, but I would say most (if not all of those) are perfectly valid when used in the specific context that Apple has protected.

    App Store should never have been granted as it is simply descriptive of it's use. The above examples are all common words, but they are not used in a way that is directly descriptive of the way they are used. If you had no familiarity with Apple software I'd say you would have a hard time guessing what each of those described.

    With App Store you know exactly what it is, not because you recognize the trademark, but because you know what an app store is.

    That is the difference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Steven (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re: Crazy Apple Trademark List

    forgot to sign in, that's my comment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Steven (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re: Crazy Apple Trademark List

    App Store is

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Joshua Jones (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 3:10pm

    Poor Apple

    When I see stories like this, and Apple's lawsuits with so many different companies over nothing important, and then see that their latest announcements are all about playing catch up to the existing tech trends that other innovative companies have pushed forward.. I cannot help but think that if they were not so worried about litigation, they could go back to doing some of that innovation themselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 3:17pm

    I remember the time not so long ago when the problem, big problem, was MS integrating the browser and media player with OS.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Prisoner 201, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    Re: seriously

    I am now trademarking the words "common sense". They now refer exclusively to my online advice service Common Sense (tm), and any unauthorized use of my brand name can and will be met with the full force of my legal team. I do NOT want any brand dillution by thieves and villains that claim to have used the phrase for decades.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 3:30pm

    If Apple truly is concerned about dilution and actually thinks App is short for Apple, why don't they just call it the Apple Store instead to clear up any confusion since obviously an idiot in a hurry thinks that app store means application store?

    Oh right. They're just being a trademark troll for the same reason they're a patent troll... They can't stand competition.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 3:44pm

    Re:

    What Apple has become...

    Bill Gates (with Darth Vader mask on):
    Steve, I am your company's father/co-owner.

    Steve Jobs (now missing one hand due to holding iPhone the wrong way): Noooooooooooooo!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    rooben (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    Mac app store

    Wait, so the Mac App Store is actually the Macintosh Apple store? What are the Apple Stores then? They are contusing their own brand, let alone Amazon....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 4:00pm

    Apple, this is the reason why OSX and Mac PC's failed against Windows. Now you're doing it again, especially with Android eating your lunch. Something tells me that money the company earned went to cashmere turtle neck sweaters instead of to software design and marketing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    PopeRatzo (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 4:32pm

    flood the 'net

    An "app store" is any store that sells apps. And "app" is a short way to say "application".

    App Store, App Store, App Store, App Store.

    There is a Google App Store, an Android App Store (a few, actually) and you could even call GameStop an app store because games are apps and GameStop sells them.

    Apple can kiss my ass. By the way, most every produce stand sells apples, including macintoshes. I have a macintosh that I wear when it rains. Macintosh macintosh macintosh macintosh. I'm even pissed that Firefox's spellchecker is underlining lower case "macintosh" because they are assuming that it refers to the arrogant and despicable company that is using their lawyers to bully people and puts their products behind a walled garden.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    taoareyou, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 8:31pm

    I'm hungy

    I think I will go and eat an app.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:39pm

    Ohh the french are gonna be pissed the have to ask apple to use Bonjour

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 1:31am

    Next in the firing line: McDonalds.
    Because, obviously, having it as Mc and not Mac at the beginning of the company name implies that the Big Mac is not self-referential, but rather a cleverly disguised ruse to exploit Apple's Macintosh line for hamburger sales.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 10:07am

    Apple abuse

    I agree, Apple will regret this. It is the same thing they did when they were big, and Microsoft was small, and explains why Microsoft kicked Steve Job's butt.
    BUT, notice:
    If a thug bullies someone and takes their money, he goes to jail and Techdirt applauds.
    If a (business thug like Apple) bullies someone and takes their money, Techdirt says they have that right, and whimpers a little.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Curses!!!, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 11:22am

    Re:

    Beat me to it. Bravo, sir, bravo!

    If you ask me, there really is an Apple for everything. One apple. The Braeburn. Best. Apple. Ever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Eponymous Coward, AKA Doug (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 11:30am

    Farming out innovation.

    It's frustrating to watch Apple's treatment of their 3rd party devs. Looking at the updates to iOS 5, they're trying to squeeze out a number of successful apps by rolling their functionality into iOS itself. I'm wondering if they will suddenly swing a retroactive banhammer since these apps now duplicate existing functionality, though a formal removal isn't really necessary to kill any future downloads.

    Very smooth Apple, letting others innovate for you, and then simply copying their core functionality for your next OS iteration.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    2 years from now at the grocery store: Miss, can I get the red roundish fruits with seeds formerly named after a "tech" company

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Jeff Rife, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 10:56am

    Re: When did they do that?

    It's hard to see this as anything other than garden variety, obnoxious trademark bullying on the part of Apple.
    Wouldn't it actually be "walled garden"-variety trademark bullying?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This