Apple Serves GetJar with “App Store” C&D

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The Scales of JusticeApple has served free mobile software download service GetJar with a Cease & Desist letter demanding the company remove the term “app store” from its site. Apple alleges that the use of the term infringes on its “App Store” trademark, making this a continuation of the company’s battle to keep competitors from using the term for their own services.

GetJar offers apps for Android and BlackBerry devices, as well as Java apps and apps for Nokia’s soon-to-be-defunct Symbian OS. Users can also find Web apps, some of which will work on Apple’s iOS devices.

The company claims some 1,969,259,455 downloads to date, with more than 160,000 total apps and 332,472 registered developers. Between all the operating systems represented, the site said it supports some 2,567 devices.

In the C&D, Apple claimed that its “App Store” mark is the, “result of the hundreds of thousands of programs offered on Apple’s App Store service, the millions of users that have accessed the service, and the billions of downloads” they have downloaded.

As such, the company argued, the App Store mark has “become one of the most famous marks in the field of online computer software and information services.”

For its part, GetJar noted in a statement provided to Mashable that, “GetJar has been in the business of offering apps to consumers since 2005, well before Apple, and helped to pioneer the model that the general public understands as an app store today. We have built a strong, global and growing business around this model, and plan to continue to use the phrase ‘app store’ to describe what we do.”

GetJar CEO Lija Laurs added, “This move by Apple is yet more proof that the company tends to act as if it is above the law, and even as one of the smaller players in the space, we won’t be bullied by Apple.”

Apple has been aggressive in trying to assert its trademark for “App Store,” and the company is currently in the midst of a battle with Amazon over its Amazon Appstore for Android that could well decide whether or not Apple’s trademark is enforceable or not. The judge presiding over the case said on Thursday that Apple is not likely to prevail in its case.

Comments

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I wonder if distributing a bumper sticker that says “The Internet is my app store” would attract Apple’s legal wrath. Is Apple really going to sue GetJar over a couple words in web site copy? Child, please!

BurmaYank

I wonder if distributing a bumper sticker that says ?The Internet is my app store? would attract Apple?s legal wrath…

No. Of course Apple?s legal would not sue over someone using one of its trademarks in a non-commercial personal expression, such as in the bumper sticker you suggested.

...Is Apple really going to sue GetJar over a couple words in web site copy?

Yes, of course Apple (and every other company with any sort of trademark to protect) would sue over some other company copying a trademark and selling under that trademark, the way Getjar has done.

Apple alone created the current meaning of the term, “App Store”, because before Apple’s online software store became so wildly popular, that combination of those two words, “App” and “Store” had no meaning or common usage.  (Indeed, before Apple used the word “app” instead of “program” or even instead of Apple’s coined term “application”, “app” was never widely used outside the world of Apple-users)

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

You now, BurmaYank, I once coined a word which was used in a very popular business book by a famous Macintosh personality. It’s still in somewhat common usage today in some circles. Did I get a trademark on it? No. Did I use it to my personal business advantage? Often. Do I get all the credit for the word? No, but I do have an “as coined by” footnote in the book, which is credit enough for me. Am I suing people who use it as their Twitter handle? No. Was it just as creative an effort for me as for whoever convinced Steve that he alone came up with “app store”? Yeah.

Anyway(s)... Apple can go through the motions on this, but it doesn’t make the whole idea of trademarking “APP STORE” and all the ramifications for what they must do to defend that trademark anything less than blatantly silly. Even when you’re the big bad bully, it makes sense to pick battles you can actually win.

gnasher729

Surely if Getjar is running its website since 2005 under the name “App Store” then Apple is going to lose this case, and its trademark application on top. However, if Getjar is running its website since 2005, and just recently started using the name “App Store” after Apple made the term famous, then this is a blatant abuse of Apple’s trademark and they are going to lose.

Bryan Chaffin

Two things, gnasher729:

Firstly, the term “app store” is used in their About Us page, as noted in the story. It’s not their name, it’s part of their self-description.

Secondly, GetJar claims to have been in business since 2005, but they do not claim to have used “app store” on their About Us page since 2005. I haven’t been able to find when that term was added.

If I had to guess, however, I’d bet it was sometime after Apple introduced The App Store. It’s just a guess, mind you, and I hope to be able to find something definitive on that.

If, on the other hand, the company has been calling itself “an app store” since 2005, or even before Apple introduced The App Store, that would be a great argument for invalidating Apple’s trademark.

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