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Microsoft and Apple Battle Over “App Store”

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Mac App Store by Rob Boudon on Flickr

Mac App Store by Rob Boudon on Flickr

In 2008, Apple applied for a trademark for “App Store”; in its application with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), Apple defined the term as a marketplace for “services featuring computer software provided via the internet and other computer and electronic communication networks.” Now Microsoft is contesting the trademark request, arguing that the term is too generic to be legally protected in such a way.

Specifically, Microsoft’s filing (PDF) with the USPTO states, “App is a common generic name for the goods offered at Apple’s store, as shown in dictionary definitions and by widespread use by Apple and others” and “store” is a common word denoting a “place where goods are sold.” Together, Microsoft argues, the term is just too generic to be trademarked.

In support of its argument, Microsoft points to a sentence uttered by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in which he stated that other companies such as Amazon and Vodafone are “creating their own app stores for Android.” Microsoft also notes unsuccessful efforts to trademark “The Computer Store” and “Log Cabin Homes,” both rejected by the USPTO for being too generic.

Remember a trademark is a name, logo, or any other symbol that distinguishes a company or products in the marketplace; if Apple were to be granted the trademark of “App Store,” only Apple could use the term to describe the place to go to buy computer applications.

Obviously Microsoft’s stake in the discussion over a potential “App Store” trademark is huge as it attempts to develop a selling spot for its own applications, but do its arguments convince you? Do you think Apple should be granted its request to trademark “App Store?”

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January 12th, 2011 at 10:05 am