Home Let There be “App Stores!” Apple Looks to Lose Trademark Claim in Amazon Lawsuit

Let There be “App Stores!” Apple Looks to Lose Trademark Claim in Amazon Lawsuit

Apple may lose its claim to the term “app store” in its trademark suit against Amazon, makers of the Amazon Appstore for Android. According to reports from Bloomberg and Reuters, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton is not convinced that Apple has proved consumers would confuse the two services.

Although the ruling is not yet final – Judge Hamilton says she will reread some of the supporting papers – she did say that she is “probably” going to deny Apple’s motion. Does this mean “app store” will now officially be a generic term?

Consumers Not Confused

The issue with Apple’s claim, reports Bloomberg, is that Apple has not truly demonstrated “real evidence of actual confusion” among consumers, calling this a “stumbling block” for the company. “I’m troubled by the showing that you’ve made so far,” said Hamilton, “but that’s where you’re likely not to prevail at this early juncture.”

Although we typically think of “app store” in casual conversation as an easy way to describe a marketplace for applications, Apple was the first popularize the phrase, if not the first to invent the idea itself. But among mainstream consumers, it was certainly the first to associate the idea of an “app store” with a place to find, download and install mobile applications.

No More “Worlds” and “Marketplaces?”

With Amazon’s “Appstore,” the combination of the two words into one was an obvious attempt to deflect exactly this sort of infringement lawsuit, while still being able to use a more “catchy” term than its competition. Other mobile platform makers have typically gone out of their way to brand their app stores without using the two terms in their title. It’s not the “BlackBerry App Store,” for example, it’s “BlackBerry App World.” And it’s not the “Windows Phone App Store,” it’s the “Windows Marketplace for Mobile,” etc.

Only Amazon was willing to risk the lawsuit to defend its (and perhaps, everyone’s) right to use this terminology in describing their application marketplace. Says Amazon, not only are the words “app store” generic, even if they weren’t, using them in the “Amazon Appstore” context is not confusing because they are for different platforms (i.e., iOS vs. Android).

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