Amazon has responded to Apple’s trademark infringement lawsuit over use of the term “Appstore” in the online retailer’s new Android online mobile marketplace. Amazon filed court documents in response to the suit that use quotes from Apple CEO Steve Jobs to argue that “app store” is generic, and that the trademark should be thrown out.
Apple filed for a trademark on for the name “App Store” when used as an online marketplace for downloadable apps (and other related uses). The company met with resistance from Microsoft, which asked the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to throw out the trademark, arguing that it’s a generic term that should not be given trademark protection.
Apple sued Amazon almost immediately after the retailer launched the Amazon Appstore for Android, a name that clearly violates Apple’s trademark, but only if it holds up.
To try and get it not to hold up, Amazon tapped one of the biggest names in technology, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, to make the case that the term is a generic descriptor, and not a proper noun unique to Apple.
From that court filing (which was published by Geekwire), Amazon cited comments from Mr. Jobs from a conference call with analysts. In that quote, Mr. Jobs himself used the term “app store” to describe various and sundry online marketplaces for mobile apps (which is the kind of thing that has led to CEOs of large companies rarely speaking at their own quarterly conference calls, but that’s another story). The quote, as cited by Amazon:
So there will be at least four app stores on Android, which customers must search among to find the app they want and developers will need to work with to distribute their apps and get paid. This is going to be a mess for both users and developers. Contrast this with Apple’s integrated App Store, which offers users the easiest-to-use largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone.
Amazon has asked the courts to invalidate Apple’s trademark, and Apple is asking the courts to accelerate the normal process for deciding such cases before the issue gets out of hand. The courts, however, move on their own timetables, which means we’ll have to wait to see if Amazon has to rename its Android store, or whether Microsoft will get to rename its Windows Phone Apps Marketplace.