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.”

Filed Under: ,
Companies: apple, wip

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Apple Threatens Wireless Industry Group For Daring To List Out Other App Stores”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Prisoner 201 says:

Re: seriously

I am now trademarking the words “common sense”. They now refer exclusively to my online advice service Common Sense ™, 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Crazy Apple Trademark List

Jam Pack

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.

Joshua Jones (profile) says:

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.

MrWilson says:

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.

PopeRatzo (profile) says:

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.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

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.

Eponymous Coward, AKA Doug (profile) says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...