Nokia & Microsoft Challenge Apple App Store EU Trademark

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Nokia, Microsoft, Sony Ericcson, and HTC have all filed protests with EU regulatory authorities challenging Apple’s trademark on the terms “App Store” and “Appstore.” Bloomberg reported that the four handset makers have filed separate requests in Alicante, Spain seeking to have Apple’s trademarks invalidated.

Speaking for the four companies, Microsoft issued a statement saying that they were “seeking to invalidate Apple’s trademark registration for ‘APP STORE’ and ‘APPSTORE’ because we believe that they should not have been granted because they both lack distinctiveness.”

Apple was granted a trademark for the terms in the U.S. and EU alike, and those trademarks will allow the company to keep other companies from using either form of the name in their own online app stores. Just as it has in the U.S., Microsoft (and the other companies) are arguing that usage such as the way we worded it just now makes the term generic, and thus not eligible for protection.

This is why Microsoft’s own online store is called “Windows Phone Apps Marketplace,” while Google has its “Android Marketplace.” Amazon, however, threw caution to the wind and called its Android marketplace the “Amazon Android Appstore,” which resulted in an immediate challenge from Apple and a countersuit from Amazon seeking to get the trademark invalidated.

The reality is that Apple’s creation of this method for selling mobile apps instantly established the company’s App Store as the definitive term for such online stores. This is why Apple wants to have the name protected by a trademark, and it is conversely why the company’s competitors want to strip that protection away from the iPhone market.

There have been no rulings yet in the various U.S. and EU challenges and lawsuits, which could take many months, if not longer, to be resolved. For this new raft of challenges in the EU, Bloomberg said that whatever decision is eventually handed down could be appealed to the EU’s top court, which is located in Luxembourg.

What's in a name?

What’s in a name? Everything.

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42 Comments Leave Your Own

geoduck

I think I’ll challenge Wallmart’s trademark because ‘mart’ as a term for a store has been used for years.
For the heck of it maybe I’ll challenge the use of WindowsPhone too because ‘Phone’ has been used for years.
How about I sue Google over Android Market because Market has been used for years too.
Hey maybe I want to use the name Target for my little store. I think I’ll sue over that too, it’s just a word that’s been around for centuries.
I want to sell more facial tissues. I think I’ll sue to get the right to call them Kleenex, that’s become a generic term for the product.
I have some tape and gauze. Let me start making and selling my own BandAids.
Oh Wait the tape is clear. I think I’ll call it Scotch just for the hell of it.

Apple set up a very successful store for selling software to mobile devices. Others tried it as well but none have been as successful. Now they think stealing Apple’s name will change things.

Weasels.

Lee Dronick

Amazon Android App Emporium
Amazon Android App Chandlery
Amazon Android App Boutique
Amazon Android App Shoppe
Amazon Android App Bodega
Amazon Android App Market
Amazon Android App Outlet
Amazon Android App Mart
Amazon Android App Souk
Amazon Android Appery

b0wz3r

I hope Apple turns around and challenges Microsoft’s trademark on ‘Windows’...  they’re arguing that ‘app store’ is too generic to be trade marked, but what a load of horse-s**t… can you get more generic than ‘windows’?  Puh-leeze…

mhikl

Anyone with a full cranium knows that App is short for Apple.

so to add to Sir H’s nifty list of places of commerce:

MicroStore (very apt)
GooStore (appropriate)
DroidStore (real catchy)
AmazStore (not bad)
NokiStore (my fav)

App Store is what it is, where Apple things are sold.

Bryan Chaffin

mhikl, I have to differ with you. Apple had “apps” on the iPhone before it had the App Store.

Sir Hank, I am smitten with the Amazon Android App Chandlery. That’s just delightful!

mhikl

. . . Apple had ?apps? on the iPhone before it had the App Store.

That’s an extra full cranium you have there Bryan. More fodder to my argument, eh? grin

Lee Dronick

Sir Hank, I am smitten with the Amazon Android App Chandlery. That?s just delightful!

As you may know I am an Old Salt, and probably working on my fifth or sixth reincarnation as a seaman. In this photo I am the second sailor from starboard (right side)

Jokes aside the OSX Dictionary App is your friend. Find an synonym for the word “Store.” Use your creativity to make your name stand out from Apple’s App Store. If the Suits at Amazon can’t think of a name then host a naming contest.

“Win a $1,000 Gift Card!
Submit a name for our Android Application Business

Lee Dronick

Android Applications @ Amazon
Your Triple A location for Applications

Gotta run, supper is calling.

geoduck

N/M

dhp

@geoduck I guess you are trying to defend Apple, but your examples are terrible and undermine your argument. Target would certainly not let you open a store called “Target,” but I don’t think they could keep you from selling archery equipment under the name “Geoduck’s Targets.” (Though they might try.) I don’t think anyone would have a problem with Apple trademarking “iPhone App Store.” But trademarking “App Store” is not equivalent to Wal-Mart trademarking “Walmart,” but rather “Mart,” then suing Kmart, Stein Mart, and probably PetSmart, too. It’s actually closer to trademarking “Shoe Store.”

The term app was not invented for the iPhone. I have emails as far back as 2004 that use “app” to refer to computer applications. (I switched from OS 9 to OS X in 2003, so I don’t have records before that.) Do you really think “app” as it is used for the iPhone is significantly different that its use for Mac applications?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Anyone with a full cranium knows that App is short for Apple.

Full of crap, obviously.

Bryan, the end of this sentence captures the whole debate:

Apple was granted a trademark for the terms in the U.S. and EU alike, and those trademarks will allow the company to keep other companies from using either form of the name in their own online app stores.

You nailed the generic issue right there.

RonMacGuy

Full of crap, obviously.

Wow, so mean and angry all the time.  You should try to relax a little, Bad News Bosco!!  Deep breaths…

Why are you so mean and angry?  Life’s too short!!

GlennG

Apple has been using the term “Application” since its inception. However, the PC world has been using the term “Programs” for their term for the same thing. It has alway aggravated me when people review Mac applications and refer to them as programs. Now they want to get into something that “works” for Apple.

cb50dc

Do you really think ?app? as it is used for the iPhone is significantly different that its use for Mac applications?

Butting in ahead of geoduck here, I don’t know if the word itself is significantly different, but Apple was, to the best of my knowledge, the first to make concrete, deliberate use of the name. For my layman’s persepective, that seems like they got their hands on it first. I’ll leave it to the lawyers and judges to decide what sticks and what doesn’t.

Worst case for Apple, should they lose the right to claim the term as their own, I don’t see any major problem?anyone who wants apps for an Apple product will know clearly which of the appstore-wannabes is the real one.

geoduck

The term for this is Genericide. The CBC ran an interesting show on this last week.
http://www.cbc.ca/ageofpersuasion/episode/season-5/2011/05/06/season-five-genericide-when-a-brand-name-becomes-generic-1/

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

The term for this is Genericide.

Partly. The bigger problem is that “app store” was a generic term from the outset. There is a reason Ikea names its tables with names like “Fartlek” instead of “wooden table”.

Bryan Chaffin

To be fair (and perhaps a tad pedantic), Brad, it was always The App Store.

Apple has never treated it as a generic name (though Steve Jobs did flub up during that analyst call and use the term generically).

Allow me to stress that: Apple has always treated its own App Store as The App Store.

I’ll also echo other comments by saying that I recall Apple’s use of “app” as the first usage of the term that wasn’t an abbreviation. “App"may have been used to refer to an application before, but it was always clearly understood that this was an abbreviation, a shortening, a reference to “application.”

When Apple introduced apps (“The phone is an app”), it was the first time that this was a term in and of itself. “Apps” were small programs that worked on your iPhone. This was crystal clear to everyone that heard it at the time, and it was frankly novel and unique.

Everything that has come since then has simply built itself on Apple’s work.

The same applies to The App Store.  There was nothing obvious about “The App Store” until Apple came along and created it, just as they essentially created the use of “app” as a thing in and of itself.

In my opinion that entitles Apple to trademark protection for the name.

Of course, the FTC and other regulators haven’t asked for my opinion. smile

RonMacGuy

There is a reason Ikea names its tables with names like ?Fartlek? instead of ?wooden table?.

But history has examples of valid trademarks for very generically named items:

Freeware
Videotape
Bubble Wrap
Memory Stick
Super Glue

All trademarked terms but based on pretty generic terminology.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Perhaps you can post links to sources for those example, RonMacGuy. A quick search of various trademark databases shows them abandoned, challenged, revoked, etc.

And that’s how the process works. Anyone can apply for just about any trademark, and a good trademark lawyer will help get the application just right so that the PTO approves the mark for exclusive use within a category of commerce. But others can oppose the trademark before and after it is granted. Others can also challenge its validity by using it and litigating or taking their chance on litigation, as Amazon has done.

For a related interesting discussion, look up the etymology of “applet”, which was popularized by Java but not trademarked by Sun. It’s a cool word, just like “app”, which is probably a derivative, and there is/was no need for anyone to “own” it or simple derivatives of it.

But at any rate, Apple would do well to pick its battles. This is pretty friggin trivial considering there is absolutely no overlap between Apple’s app store and competitors’ app stores due to Apple’s own platform policies.

RonMacGuy

Link to trademark examples

Quote from Wikipedia:  “List of protected trademarks frequently used as generic terms.  Marks in this list are still legally protected as trademarks, at least in some jurisdictions, but are sometimes used by consumers in a generic sense. Unlike the names in the list above, these names are still widely known by the public as brand names, and are not used by competitors. Scholars disagree as to whether the use of a recognized trademark name for similar products can truly be called “generic”, or if it is instead a form of synechdoche.[37] The previous list contains trademarks that have completely lost their legal status in some countries, while the following list contains marks which have been registered as trademarks, continue in use, and are actively enforced by their trademark owners. Writing guides such as the AP Stylebook advise writers to “use a generic equivalent unless the trademark is essential to the story.”

Freeware and Videotape were from the “list above” as worded by the Wikipedia quote.  The last three I listed according to Wikipedia are “still legally protected as trademarks”.

RonMacGuy

But at any rate, Apple would do well to pick its battles.

But why?  They are powerful enough, have enough highly-paid lawyers on staff, and feel they have a valid case that can set them even further apart (and significantly above) their competition.  You may feel it is pretty friggin trivial, but it really isn’t.  Something as simple as a name can make or break a company, and has been for a hundred years.  Why should Apple roll over on this one?  Because it is mean to the competition?  Welcome to Corporate America!!

Bryan Chaffin

But at any rate, Apple would do well to pick its battles.

I made a long, eloquent post explaining why this just such a battle.

RonMacGuy

I made a long, eloquent post explaining why this just such a battle.

You expect credit from Bad News Bosco?!?!?  That’s funny!!

Bryan Chaffin

I may (frequently) disagree with my friend Brad, but I respect his opinion. I’m arrogant enough to think he respects mine, even when he disagrees with me. smile

RonMacGuy

My apologies, Bryan.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  But my opinion is that even if you think there is respect there, credit typically is not given by him where it is due.

Bryan Chaffin

No apology needed, Ron, and I will readily admit that respect and according public credit do not necessarily go hand in hand.

Which was why I reminded Brad that I had made that post.  I think I made a splendid argument.

Mayhap i’ll turn it into a broader column on the topic.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

My apologies, Bryan.? Everyone is entitled to their opinion.? But my opinion is that even if you think there is respect there, credit typically is not given by him where it is due.

RonMacGuy, this is where you’re just kind of at a disadvantage. I consider Bryan a long time online friend. First met him when he acquired Webintosh from Dan Hughes. I’ve always thought that TMO was the thoughtful corner of the Mac universe. Bryan and his team have worked consistently to be that. They were never the most popular nor the most talked about. But always the most thoughtful. Even in this time where Gruber and (far worse) Dilger basically get their success by tonguing Steve Jobs’——, TMO has remained enthusiastic and supportive of Apple from a thoughtful perspective. So you can safely assume that I have a great deal of genuine respect for Bryan. In fact, if you were around on the day I switched my moniker from just Bosco to include my given name, which has a long-time (I hear positive) reputation in Mac circles, you’d know that the switch was made because I was becoming more critical of stupid Apple behavior and wasn’t going to hide behind anonymity to do it. That switch was made first and foremost out of respect for Bryan and his TMO crew.

At the other end of the respectrum, there is one little pants wetting creep who posts here that I have less than zero respect for. Mostly, I ignore the little pansy, but if I come up with a particularly biting insult, I’ll save it for him. I find it hilarious how he is trying to position himself here as a thoughtful commenter who considers facts and lectures newcomers on the importance of knowing what he knows for certain in one breath, then in another accuses me of being Reality Check under a different screen name. Dude is a first-class [naughty, rude word].

Ron, you fall very close to one end of the respectrum. For the most part I ignore you. I do find it hilarious that you go running to the teacher hoping to impress him by what you consider your keen observations about me. I have this friend who has 4 kids. Kid #2 is a rat. He thinks he’s being helpful by tattling on kid #3. But kid #3 is a really cute kid with a kick ass personality and basically, kid #2 could tell on her for providing material support to Al Queda and we’d all still think he’s a rat. You kinda remind me of kid #2 in that I don’t miss him much when he’s not there. And I think that’s basically your problem with me, which is why I mostly just ignore you grin.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Which was why I reminded Brad that I had made that post.? I think I made a splendid argument.

Bryan, I actually do think you made a splendid argument. Sometimes though, Apple’s insistence on getting credit basically becomes the joke that unifies its competitors. This “app store” thing is one example. Let’s say it eventually wins its lawsuit against Amazon and gets monetary and injunctive damages. Given the time frame that will take, it is entirely possible that Amazon’s little store might be of similar scale to Apple’s. In that case, Apple will look to many as a sore loser in the larger market seeking to pin blame on a naming issue that didn’t matter a bit.

But the better example of Apple not picking its battles is the Samsung lawsuit, specifically Apple’s accompanying PR statement that (paraphrasing) “it’s wrong for Samsung to copy Apple and Sammie should invent its own stuff”. The fastest way to win any thread (and I mean any thread) on Engadget, TechCruch, ZDNet, El Reg, etc. right now is to claim that Apple invented whatever the topic of the article is about and that whatever company should invent their own stuff rather than copying Apple. It’s the punchline to 1000 jokes, and it’ll have a longer useful lifetime than “all your base”.

Sometimes, your best friends are the ones who will tell you that, yes, that dress makes you look fat. This “app store” kerfuffle makes Apple look petty.

Bryan Chaffin

Like Brad said, we’ve been friends for a long time. Fourteen+ years ago, he gave me a smackdown I deserved on one of those rare occasions where I was flat-out wrong, and we’ve been fast friends since.  smile

Of course, I still edited the profanity in the post two above this one, and I take issue with his characterization of Ron, just as I take issue with Ron’s (and others’) characterization of Brad.

Brad’s taken far worse than he’s given over the years (and I read almost every comment on my articles), but I want everyone to be polite.  Every one of us can almost always learn more from someone who thinks differently than we do, and that’s what I think Brad brings to us. A different perspective is good.

So, back to the discussion at hand: I think your points about Samsung and Amazon have plenty of merit, Brad. Apple could be setting itself for a negative perception and every company (and every person!) should always choose its battles carefully.

I don’t think the point of fighting Amazon is to get damages, though. It’s to keep every other mobile platform from claiming to have an “app store” when Apple is the entity that created the concept to begin with (referring to my points about the use of “app” above).

There is sometimes value in perception, and for Apple I think there is value in having the only “app store,” as in The App Store.  In my opinion, the company can derive massive brand awareness and value out of that perception, and that said value would be limited if everyone else had an app store.

To that end, I think the value proposition of keeping that perception outweighs the risk of looking like a sore loser. Indeed, I imagine that only a tiny subset of potential customers would ever think that in the first place, even if it did work out that way.

With all that in mind, I don’t see this as a petty issue.

Lee Dronick

I just watched a segment on the morning news that Disney Corporation has registered the name “Seal Team 6.” I thought the trademarking of such Government organization names was not allowed.

Lee Dronick

Speaking of Seal Teams, I m getting to the point that I wish they would visit espamming com.

RonMacGuy

To Bad News Bosco (BNB), with a respectful attempt at being polite at the request of Mr. Chaffin, thank you for that beautiful bit of history on you and TMO.  Tears in my eyes and all that.  Not quite sure how that puts me at a disadvantage, but hey whatever you say.  Maybe if I post my last name you will respect me more? grin

Since we are in brutal honesty mode here, with the hope of ?just getting along? better in the future, I think you read me all wrong.  I don?t know who you think the ?teacher? is that I run to, but I can see how you can read it that way given your attitude.  I simply feel that when cocky, superior-acting, and at times ignorant people make boastful comments with snide and petty insults, they should be held accountable for what they say.  If you dish it out, you should be able to take it as well.  Even Bryan here said, ?on one of those rare occasions where I was flat-out wrong?.  I think you, BNB, have been wrong on several occasions, and frankly I have never seen you fess up to it.  I don?t think you are capable of it.  What you call ?Ron tattling to the teacher? is just me simply seeing a cocky SOB who can?t admit he is wrong.  So, when I post in Nov 2011 your comments from Nov 2010 with your bold predictions and all the immature garbage about iPad being ?declining and insignificant? I just want to hear you say you were wrong.  Bryan, have you ever seen BNB actually say, ?Wow, I was wrong about that ? sorry.??  Maybe with your long and illustrious history with him you?ve seen it, but I haven?t in the past 2-3 years of my TMO history.  We are all wrong at times, and that?s OK.  I admit that I have been wrong at times.  But, if we just allow BNB to say whatever he wants with no accountability, then we may as well just treat him like the troll that he acts like here.

If you?d like a little practice BNB, how about admitting you were wrong about what you said in May 2010:  ?After the debut of the MOTO Droid, iPhone no longer is appealing enough to Verizon for them to want it on anything near Apple?s terms, or in fact, anywhere near worth the exercise for Apple.?  Once again, boastful statements with no accountability.  Just say you were wrong.  Please?  It feels good to say it!!  Knocks you off that little pedestal of yours a bit, but it makes you a better human being.

BTW, I now call you Bad News Bosco because you give Apple no credit for their successes like their market capitalization, their record sales and volume growth, and their ability to maintain huge market share given the fact that they have in essence a single phone product that is still sold to one out of every four people buying a smartphone today.  You only rear your ugly head on the bad news stories about Apple ? the lawsuits, the losing market share to android (while not acknowledging ANYTHING is wrong with android like fragmentation or malware or the fact that they can?t get a 5-month-old version of their OS on more than 4% of their devices).  Your actions are so obvious and predictable it makes me laugh.  It humors me greatly that you dish it out in spades against Apple, but hide like the coward that you are when it comes time to praise Apple for the good things or condemn android for the bad things.  If you ask me, that is more the behavior of an immature rat-child than me ?tattling? on you.

Sorry Bryan, I tried to be polite, but I think I failed… grin

RonMacGuy

Wow, BNB, as I reread your post, it truly demonstrates how much of an elitist you are!!  Man, I would love to meet you in person!!  LOL.  I’m sorry, but wow, it really is pretty funny.  Anyone who sees a view different than your own is a pants-wetter, a pansy, a rat, or a tattler.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Anyone who sees a view different than your own is a pants-wetter, a pansy, a rat, or a tattler.

I think I provided you with a counter-example of this claim.

RonMacGuy

I think I provided you with a counter-example of this claim.

Very sorry, I must have missed it.

Speaking of missing it, did you happen to catch my android comments in a separate post?  Care to counter on these comments?  I have removed my snarky comments in an attempt to be more polite!!

Latest news on android:  android 2.3 has been released for 5 months now but has only been installed on 4% of android devices.

And from appolicious.com: ?Yesterday, the functionality to rent movies on Honeycomb tablets and desktop computers was introduced with a promise to bring the mobile devices running 2.2+ up to speed within the next couple weeks. This has been available through iTunes for so long that I don?t even consider it a feature.?

And, although available for months on iPhones/iPads, Netflix is now FINALLY available for android! But wait, it is available on just 5 handsets (the Samsung Nexus S, and the HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G and G2) and Netflix is ?feverishly working on adding more devices to that list, but as of now the rest of the android nation ? including tablet users ? will just have to wait.? (quote from yahoo news).

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Very sorry, I must have missed it.

First order of business is for you to find it. You seem able to find anything else I write. Let me know when you figure it out.

RonMacGuy

Ah yes, the challenging BNB riddle - yet another way to feed his superiority complex.  Well sorry, but I’m not playing your games.  I wonder how tall you are - perhaps Napoleon’s height?  grin

As predicted, you continue to avoid admitting being wrong (or defeat in general), and you avoid addressing any anti-android sentiment that may be brought up.

I suspect most people reading TMO will continue to view you as nothing more than an elitist troll with an intense hatred of all things Apple, and with a blind support of an OS that is inferior in many ways.  You are to android what you condemn most lovers of iDevices to be of Apple, which is very funny in my book.

No offense!!  Have a nice day.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

One correct answer would be “Bryan”. I don’t think you’re so dumb not to have known that. Again, this is what you wrote:

Anyone who sees a view different than your own is a pants-wetter, a pansy, a rat, or a tattler.

That is completely incorrect, Ron. Look, there is no question that I associate you with three of those listed items. But that’s on you, not everyone who sees a view different from me. I just happen to think that we can congregate at a place called TMO and have a wide range of opinions, some of which differ from the official Apple party line. Tolerance and diversity are good.

RonMacGuy

Excuse my generalization then.  Funny, I thought you only associated two of the items with me.  But go ahead and avoid the key issue.  I’ve made it clear what I think of you, and you continue to prove me right in that regard.  But, we are in agreement on one thing:  we can congregate at a place called TMO and have a wide range of opinions.  But someday when you are obviously incorrect about one of your many wrong predictions I hope you are man enough to admit it.  I guess it gives me something to look forward to!!

RonMacGuy

Actually BNB, now that I think about it, given your elitist nature and superiority complex, it is entirely possible that you consider Bryan a friend yet still consider him either a pansy or a rat.  It is entirely possible that you consider anyone with a different view of your own to be either a pansy or a rat, so I retract my “excuse my generalization then” comment!!  grin

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I don?t think the point of fighting Amazon is to get damages, though. It?s to keep every other mobile platform from claiming to have an ?app store? when Apple is the entity that created the concept to begin with (referring to my points about the use of ?app? above).

I think it’s more subtle than that. I think the point is for Apple to claim that it is innovative and that everyone else is a copycat. I’ve yet to see anyone pick iPhone over Android because they perceive iPhone to be the real thing and Android to be a copycat. Like all this big company [naught, nasty word] waving, Apple doesn’t expect anything to come of it except to be talked about. And Amazon wouldn’t have gone ahead and named their store as they did if they thought any eventual settlement would be more than rounding error.

I don’t get the whole copycat narrative anyway? If you’re losing to cheap copies, what’s that really say about the perceived value of what you do?

RonMacGuy

I love it, he really is incapable of admitting he’s wrong!!  Unbelievable!!

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