Apple's ‘App Store' Trademark Battle Continues

Should Apple own the term it popularized?

When Amazon started using the phrase "Appstore for Android," Apple wasn't exactly thrilled, so it filed a lawsuit. Recently, Amazon started using the phrase "Amazon Appstore" in advertisements for its new Kindle Fire tablet.

Now it's personal.

In addition to earlier allegations of trademark infringement and unfair competition, Apple is now accusing Amazon of false advertising, reports.

"Amazon has been improperly using Apple’s APP STORE mark in connection with Amazon’s mobile software developer program, has recently launched a mobile software download service using Apple’s mark, and has announced the release of a tablet device that will utilize certain aspects of the mobile software download service," the amended complaint reads. "Amazon’s uses are unauthorized and unlawful."

Amazon's Fire started shipping a couple of days ago and thousands of popular Android apps are available for download at the "Amazon Appstore for Android." The $199 tablet is also Apple's first serious competition. Some have even called for Apple to drop the price of its iPad, which starts at $499.

Apple's problem is that all the effort and money it poured into the slogan "There’s an app for that" propelled the word "app" into widespread use. A successful campaign to be sure, but it could also be the downfall of Apple's mission to own the phrase "app store."

The argument can easily be made that "app store" is now used to refer to any store selling apps -- Apple or otherwise --  putting the term in the same category as "dollar store" and "drug store." Terms like this cannot be owned.

Sure, the word "app" was virtually nonexistant before Apple's products. But this wouldn't be the first time a word became so generic that people no longer associate it with the company that coined it. "Aspirin" and "Yo-Yo" are just two examples.

In 2010, "app" was even selected to be the word of the year by the American Dialect Society.

This looks like it could be a loosing battle for Apple, but you can't blame the company for trying.

Apple has not yet been granted a federal trademark for the term "app store," though it did apply for one. And there is already one registered objection from Microsoft.

Read Apple's full complaint here (PDF).

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