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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    smelly dog, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 7:43am

    There are whole teams of people whose job relies on them finding things to squabble over. It's not going away soon.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 7:59am

    Passing yourself off as a trademark bully: There's an app for that.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    iamtheky (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    there's an apple for that?

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:08am

    Its impossible to compete without a trademark

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Steve, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:54am

      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.

       

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

    •  
      icon
      G Thompson (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 12:25am

      Re:

      Toilet paper..

      not only does it not require trademarks to sell to nearly everybody on the whole planet, it also cleans up bullshit too

       

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

  •  
    icon
    Jesse (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:10am

    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.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Sean T Henry (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:29am

      Re:

      So Apple supports piracy!

      If they do try to block the use of App Store then start using "App Cashe"

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      JEDIDIAH, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 10:29am

      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.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        vivaelamor (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 10:36am

        Re: Changing reality to suit your favorite corporation.

        '"Windows" is a (descriptive) term of art that has been in use since before any Microsoft GUI ever came into existence.'

        But, AFAIK, no one else named an operating system (or any other similar product) after it.

         

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

        •  
          icon
          xs (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 11:38am

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

          By the same token, no one else named a store selling applications "App store" before Apple did either.

           

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

      •  
        icon
        G Thompson (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 12:36am

        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)

        :)

         

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

  •  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:14am

    If someone were to start the MicroAppStore, it would be fun to watch the fallout.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    DS, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:18am

    Well, if it means App(le) store when they use it, and App(lication) store when everyone else does, what's the problem?

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Danny, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 9:14am

      Re:

      Looks like the problem is that Apple is trying to say that it actually means App(le) Store no matter who uses. Meaning they think people with Android phones go to the Android Market to buy apples not applications.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:19am

    Stop fighting over trademarks on silly things, and focus on actually competing in the marketplace.

    Uh... they are. And they have been at it for a while. How come you missed it?

    Now let them have their pointless wars, it entertains all of us. Plus it keeps the lawyers busy so they don't harass their users.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    johnny canada, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:20am

    The judge rules that 'App' does mean Apple.

    And the rights to the phrase belongs to the Beatles :)

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Gwiz (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:23am

      Re:

      And the rights to the phrase belongs to the Beatles :)

      I dunno about that. Johnny Appleseed might have a prior claim.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:28am

        Re: Re:

        "I dunno about that. Johnny Appleseed might have a prior claim."

        Does any of this mean we can prosecute Apple's App-store for 3rd party enabling of original sin?

         

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

      •  
        icon
        Wiggs (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:28am

        Re: Re:

        Wasn't Sir Isaac Newton the first one to patent the apple? I mean, if I got hit in the head with an apple, I'd patent the hell out of it... as a WEAPON!

         

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

      •  
        icon
        fogbugzd (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:31am

        Re: Re:

        >>I dunno about that. Johnny Appleseed might have a prior claim.

        But Johnny Appleseed never registered a trademark on the name.

        It's too bad he decided to do something useful with his time instead of protecting his IP. He would never survived in the modern environment with those type of priorities.

         

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    I wish I had a Cortland right now.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:47am

    Application->Applet->App

    I defy Apple to prove that "Application" doesn't start with "App".

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    mike, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:57am

    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).

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 11:42am

      Re:

      Huh?

      Tide is not generic for detergent. Camel is not generic for cigarettes. Apple is not generic for computers.

      "App store" is completely generic for "a store that sells applications". It's the same reason I can't trademark "gas station" for a "station that pumps gas".

       

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

  •  
    icon
    Paul Hobbs (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 10:10am

    God I hate App. Every day I find another reason to despise App. My children, on the other hand, love eating Apps. In fact, they are my son's favourite fruit, along with Straws and Bans.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    JTO (profile), Mar 10th, 2011 @ 10:17am

    Fine. "App Store" refers to "Apple Store". Then "app store" refers to "application store".

    So I'd like 5 bushels of Rock Gold and a couple bushels of assorted bittersweets, please. Oh, you don't *actually* sell apples at the Apple Store? That's kind of misleading, isn't it?

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 11:10am

    Dammit, someone already registered appville.com :(

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    What A Boring, Sleep-Inducing Thing To Fight Over

    Luckily, there’s a nap for that.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Doug, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 11:55pm

    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.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      G Thompson (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 12:50am

      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 (tm)"

      If Apple would like to call there store "Apple App Store (tm)" 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.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    dwg, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 12:13pm

    Particularly awesome

    I had a bunch of customer-service problems with Apple recently. In response, I asked for a credit at the "App Store." Apple told me that that was impossible, but that I COULD HAVE A CREDIT AT THE "APPLE STORE."

    Admission against interest? Yep.

     

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


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