Microsoft to Apple: You Can't Trademark “App Store”

Microsoft is seeking to block Apple from trademarking the words "App Store," saying that it's too generic and should be able to be used by everyone -- including its competitors.

"An 'app store' is an 'app store'," Russell Pangborn, Microsoft's associate general counsel told the BBC. "Like 'shoe store' or 'toy store', it is a generic term that is commonly used by companies, governments and individuals that offer apps. . . . The term 'app store' should continue to be available for use by all without fear of reprisal by Apple."

Microsoft filed its newest complaint earlier this week, more than two years after Apple first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on March 6, 2008. (Microsoft first filed its opposition to Apple's trademark bid on Jan. 5, 2010, a little more than a year ago.) The complaint states that "app store" is used as a generic term in the press, industry and "even by Apple's founder and CEO Steve Jobs" (Microsoft's italics) then proceeded to use a Jobs quote to illustrate their point:

In addition to Google's own app marketplace, Amazon, Verizon and Vodafone have all announced that they are creating their own app stores for Android. There will be at least four app stores on Android which customers must search through to find the app they want and developers will need to work to distribute their apps and get paid.

The use of "app" for application has become part of the tech vernacular so it's hard to conceive of "app store" as being anything but a generic term. However, popular opinion means little to the patent office and expect lawyers for both sides to argue for several months before the office makes a decision. 

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