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App Store Trademark Battle Expands to Europe, Includes Linguists

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App store graphic

App store graphic courtesy of TUAW

As we’ve discussed, Apple continues to fight for its trademark rights over the term “app store,” and now the contest has expanded to Europe with two new requests for trademark coverage; meanwhile, stateside both Microsoft and Apple have called in the reinforcements, i.e., battling linguists to define the term.

Across the Atlantic, Apple has filed requests with the European Trademark Office to include the “App Store” graphic as well as to widen the class of product categories that would be covered by the trademark to include hardware, educational products, games, and International Class 36, which covers “services rendered in financial and monetary affairs and services rendered in relation to insurance contracts of all kinds.”

The latter request, if granted, would expand the coverage of the trademark from four categories to ten.

Back on this side of the pond, Apple is attempting to convince the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) that it has a legal claim on the term “app store” by calling in Dr. Robert Leonard, forensics linguist and professor at Hofstra University. Leonard maintains that although “app” and “store” are separate words, when they are combined, they become a new noun and therefore can be trademarked.

Not willing to concede the point, though, Microsoft has hired its own linguist, Ronald Butlers, who avers in Microsoft’s latest filing with the USPTO that the term “app store” is generic: “The compound noun app store means simply ‘store at which apps are offered for sale,’ which is merely a definition of the thing itself — a generic characterization.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple and Microsoft both declined further comment.

And so the battle over the “app store” continues. Stay tuned!

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April 5th, 2011 at 9:44 am