Apple Tries To Convince Trademark Board That App Store Really Means Apple Store

from the there's-no-app-for-that dept

I haven’t been following too closely the ongoing trademark fights concerning whether or not Apple can trademark the rather descriptive and generic term “app store,” but I do find it interesting that the company has brought on a “linguist” to declare that “App Store” is really the “proper noun” of “Apple’s online store.” Microsoft, in fighting this trademark, has noted that app store is totally generic… and even pointed out that Steve Jobs himself has used the phrase when talking about app stores from Amazon, Google and others (oops!). Amusingly, though, Apple then mocks Microsoft by pointing out that the company shouldn’t be pointing fingers on attempts to trademark generic terms:

“Having itself faced a decades-long generic challenge to its claimed Windows mark, Microsoft should be well aware that the focus in evaluating the mark is on the mark as a whole and requires a fact-intensive assessment of the primary significance of the term to a substantial majority of the relevant public.”

Of course, it’s easy to mock both Apple and Microsoft here. In the end, this whole thing is silly. Stop fighting over trademarks on silly things, and focus on actually competing in the marketplace.

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Comments on “Apple Tries To Convince Trademark Board That App Store Really Means Apple Store”

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45 Comments
Steve says:

Re: Re:

“It’s impossible to compete without a trade mark.”

Go to your grocery store and look at the puffed rice cereal bag. Go to Walmart and look at the cotton swabs. It is not impossible to compete without a trademark. It’s almost impossible to build a brand without one though. I think that’s what you meant to say.

If Louis Vuitton didn’t have a trademark on their name they could not have built the brand equity necessary to charge so damn much for a purse.

Jesse (profile) says:

Yes. Microsoft trademarked a generic term. However, Apple is doing more than that: they are trying to change the accepted meaning of a generic term. An equivalent scenario would be if Microsoft had defended trademarking Windows by claiming that it was really short for Windowsbymicrosoft (obvs!).

Also, and importantly, hardly anyone else in the field was using that term at the time for anything other than Microsoft’s Windows. With the term App store, as Steve Jobs himself recognized, many other companies have “App[lication] Stores.”

I say: let Apple have their “App[le] Store” so long as they can’t block the “App[lication] Stores” of others. Apple implicitly acknowledges the dual meanings so they shouldn’t be allowed to complain.

Side note: might I remind everyone that the shortcut “App” was popularized by the language norms in the world of illegal downloading. It is a term used to refer to “useful” programs (as opposed to games). Just throwing that out there.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Changing reality to suit your favorite corporation.

Also, and importantly, hardly anyone else in the field was using that term at the time for anything other than Microsoft’s Windows.

Are you kidding?

Did you just fall off the turnip truck?

“Windows” is a (descriptive) term of art that has been in use since before any Microsoft GUI ever came into existence. This even includes their pathetic early versions.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Changing reality to suit your favorite corporation.

Your showing your age there;)

These youngens dont know that the grandaddy of the word processor Wordstar 5.0 had Windows, and the best O/S of em all at the time called GEM by Digital Research (Did you use DR-DOS like I did?) was rife with them

And lets not get into how Windows 1.0 and beyond was/is a complete ripoff of so many O/S shells at the time like umm.. GEM, IBM OS2, Atari OS, or even Arthur for the Acorn Computer (RISC)

πŸ™‚

mike says:

What some of you guys call “generic” terms are routinely protected as strong trademarks — Tide (detergent); Camel (cigarettes); Apple (computers)

This is arguably different b/c the alleged mark is potentially generic or descriptive of the service the mark represents. About 5 minutes of Wikipedia quality research would show you that truly generic marks are never protectable but descriptive marks can be (think American Airlines).

Doug says:

Compare apps to apps, dude

Comparing App Store to Windows isn’t quite accurate.

App Store is a store for apps.

Windows is a computer operating system.

Tell me with a straight face that “App Store” and “Windows” are equally (un)deserving of trademark.

It would be one thing if Microsoft were to try to assert ownership over the term “window” when applied to a particularly common user interface metaphor. That would be dumb. Microsoft doesn’t do that.

On the other hand, Microsoft would probably complain if a company were to use the term “Windows” as part the name of an operating system. And I would probably sympathize with their complaint, as it probably would cause actual customer confusion.

Compare with Apple, who is asserting that they own the term “App Store” when used to refer to … a store for applications. For this, I have no sympathy.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Compare apps to apps, dude

X-Windows, OpenWindows, MicroWindows are all GUI Windowsing systems for computing and are all able to trade with that name becasue of Windows not being trademarked specifiically to Microsoft other than as “Microsoft Windows ™”

If Apple would like to call there store “Apple App Store ™” no body will raise an eyebrow and good on them, though as all programmers or anyone who has been in the ICT Industry for the last 30yrs, the word App is absolutely generic, abbreviated, and has been in prior use in all the ways Apple hate for more years than Apple has been a going concern.

The real reason Apple in its normal stupidity and chest beating is doing this is simple. EGO. They hate the Android market, they hate the idea that people can create a product similar to their own (anyone else remember the Orange Computer… a real Apple clone in late 80s?), and as anyone who knows anything of the history of Apple Inc will tell you it has NEVER been about the product, it is all about the prestige and honour *tries not to scream with laughter* of owning the brand that is Apple.

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