Apple sues Amazon over App Store name

Appstore for Android and Angry Birds Rio promotion under threat at online retailer

Apple has launched a lawsuit against over the use of the term 'App Store', which the online retailer had begun to use to promote the download of Android products.

According to a Bloomberg report Apple is accusing Amazon of trademark infringement and unfair competition.

Amazon is intending to launch its own app store for Android products, and has already secured support from a number of developers - including Rovio for their forthcoming game Angry Birds Rio release.

Although references to both Angry Birds Rio and the 'Appstore for Android' do still exist when searching the Amazon website they no longer link to active pages.

Although the term app store is used colloquially to refer to any similar download store the phrase is an Apple trademark and other companies refer to their equivalent services in different ways, such as Google's Android Market.

As a result Apple is demanding that Amazon be prevented from using the name and that it pay unspecified damages.

"Amazon has unlawfully used the App Store mark to solicit software developers throughout the United States," says Apple's lawsuit. The company claims that it has received no "substantive response" from Amazon on the matter.

"We've asked Amazon not to copy the App Store name because it will confuse and mislead customers," said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet. Amazon has so far refused to comment.

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Latest comments (21)

Michael Armer Studying Games Development National Diploma Level 3, Lancaster and Morecambe College6 years ago
I do wish apple would fall of there high horse
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Antony Johnston Writer & Narrative Designer 6 years ago
I doubt Apple will succeed here -- I suspect App Store will go the same way as terms like Hoover and Google, entering popular generic usage despite their parent company's best efforts -- but that doesn't mean they're in the wrong, or shouldn't try to protect their mark.

It's amusing to hear all these people claiming that "app store is a generic and obvious term", considering that before the App Store was created, nobody called any of the mobile download venues such a thing. Once again, Apple creates and popularises something, then everyone else jumps on the bandwagon and tries to usurp their mark. It's no wonder Apple's legal team are hyper-sensitive.
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Matthew Eakins Technical Lead, HB-Studios6 years ago
@Michael - They just might, Microsoft is currently challenging the trademark in the courts.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Matthew Eakins on 22nd March 2011 12:20pm

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Show all comments (21)
Dan Amerson General Manager, NC, Organic Motion6 years ago
If I recall correctly, terms like Google and Xerox don't have protection when used as a verb but do as a noun. I believe you have a stronger protection when you refer to a noun, product or service. I think the bigger issue here is that App Store just isn't that strong of a trademark. It's two words that describe what it sells. It's a store for applications. It would be difficult for me to secure and if so subsequently defend a trademark on "book store."
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 6 years ago
I think I am going to trademark app shop and license that so Apple can keep the app store all to them selves :-)
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Antony Johnston Writer & Narrative Designer 6 years ago
@Dan: You're right, except that, as I said, "app store" wasn't a term already in use when Apple first coined it. Again, I don't expect Apple to come out of this with a win - both Microsoft and Amazon have deep enough pockets to take the fight all the way - but you can understand why they're taking the action.
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It'll be hard to defend a colloquialism - the Hoover test applies - but they may well have a "passing off" case here.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 6 years ago
Microsoft successfully persuaded WxWindows makers to change their names to WxWidgets. (Not to mention Mike Rowe Soft). After all, windows is a lot more generic word than App Store.
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That does it ! I'm going to register all the common words that can be found on a dictionary for a few million, sue the entire world by putting some billion on the table and win a trillion. The most evil plan, isn't it ?
Seriously, all this ridiculous cases are getting more and more ... ridiculous :(
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Adam Campbell Studying Games Technology, City University London6 years ago
I think I'll trademark App..
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 6 years ago
Apple is really getting on my nerves nowadays with all their legal actions here and there. However, I do think people should avoide using App Sotre at this stage as someone correctly pointed out that it was a termed coined by Apple. However, if the term became a popular cultural term should someone still be able to own that? That is th main question here. I don't remember that the Kirby brand of vacuum cleaner ever sued Nintendo for using the name Kirby as a video game character despite he sucks in things in the game too. So it is a matter of how open you are.
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Robert B Trollinger Jr Cook 6 years ago
Wait The Fruit Apples Sue Apple over Infringing on their usage of Apple name and Symbols and it is long over due for Real Fruit Apples have Deep Pockets.
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Private Industry 6 years ago
There is a Kirby vacuum cleaner?

Maybe I can trademark "Grocery Store"?
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Keldon Alleyne Developer, leader, writer, Avasopht Ltd6 years ago
App Store is such a generic (and unoriginal) term that can't imagine any damage being caused to the iOS App Store by it being used for other application stores (app stores).

No it was not coined or trademarked before Apple, but that in no way makes it 'novel'. There was no need (or emphasis on the App Store to require much consideration). The App Store is a store for apps, apps is an existing term, so App Store exists already by definition.

That being said, I wouldn't mind them keeping that trademark if they give up the sub pixel text rendering patent (that nobody should be allowed to have).
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James Gallagher Marketing Manager, Futuremark Corporation6 years ago
Apple may have the trademark on App Store but the way it is used in their marketing and websites provides a strong case for the mark being genericized: the result of a brand name becoming the colloquial or generic description for a general class of product or service, rather than an indicator of source or affiliation. Lots of examples and the legal position on genericized trademarks here:
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I'd like to see how far they would go with this. If Amazon were to change the name to the "App Market", "App Mart" or the "Apps Store" would Apple still have a problem I wonder?
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Jan Van Der Crabben Senior Game Designer, Travian Games GmbH6 years ago
Interesting that Apple is suing Amazon over the use of the name "app store", and they are not suing Google for recently launching the Google Chrome App Store...
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Ross Colgan Experienced Artist, Codemasters6 years ago
Every word or term ever used in the world was coined by someone. You can't just have rights over words, or combinations of letters, just for the sake of it. See the idiot who claimed that 'Edge' was actually his word, exclusive to him and his products. It's pathetic. And he obviously lost, as should Apple.
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It's not quite that simple, though. If I started a Mutant Caterpillar "App Store" on Android and publicised it widely, Apple would have a strong claim that I was attempting to gain trade by passing my product off as theirs, and they'd be right to sue me for it. This is pretty much what they're doing here.

The counter-argument is that my company is not an internationally-famous online store trademark. It would be very hard to argue that many will see "Amazon App Store" and be confused into thinking it's Apple's product.
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Rui Campos Technical Director for Level Design, Ubisoft Montreal6 years ago
Regarding the term "app": the term application has a long history in the Mac world - starting in 1984 - since they never called them programs there. Applications and Documents are the foundation of the Apple desktop metaphor. App has always been used as shorthand for Applications. I think the term found its way into the windows world, and mobile, recently. My point is that the term App is associated with Apple (it's even alliterative) App is now a common term, but we all know what the "App Store" is and that's why this is going to court.

@William, Quite, right and this is why it is going to court. i don't think people understand that IP law protections are only good if you actively pursue them. Every company has to defend its IP or it will forfeit it. Now it's up to the courts to decide, and that's how it should be.
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