Before launching its wildly successful Apple App Store, Apple applied to patent the phrase “app store.” Since then, other technology companies launching retail software stores have called them by any other name. But Microsoft will have none of it and has sued to block Apple from trademarking the app store phrase.
Microsoft blocks Apple trademark application
The Apple App Store trademark lawsuit was filed by Microsoft on the contention that “app store” is a generic term no single company can own. Microsoft filed a motion for a summary judgment more than a year after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office opened Apple’s original application, filed in 2008, for the App Store trademark. In the 23-page motion, Microsoft said “app store” is the equivalent of such generic terms as “shoe store” and “toy store.” Microsoft’s motion stalls Apple’s App Store trademark application into “opposition pending” mode. Last fall, Apple was successful in trademarking the phrase “there’s an app for that.”
Microsoft lawyers versus the Apple juggernaut
As the success of the Apple App Store has grown, the phrase “app store” is most commonly associated with Apple. If Apple manages to trademark “app store,” it will be able to sue other companies that use the phrase in reference to their retail software stores. Microsoft lawyers have decided to sue Apple first. In an attempt to take on the iPhone, Microsoft launched its Windows Phone 7 operating system and the Apps Marketplace, a knock-off of the Apple App Store.
An abundance of app stores
Since the debut of the Apple App Store, many companies in the smartphone industry have launched their own retail software stores. Google has Android Market. Samsung calls its store Samsung Apps. HP’s entry is the App Catalog. Amazon has decided to split hairs by branding its version the Amazon Appstore. The media, as well as technology executives and even Steve Jobs, occasionally refer to these various retail software outlets as “app stores.” That fact alone is reason enough for a USPTO summary judgment rejecting Apple’s trademark application, according to Microsoft.