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Microsoft contends Apple's 'App Store' trademark

Claims "generic term" should be "free for all competitors to use"

Microsoft and Apple are locked in a legal battle regarding the latter's exclusive right to the term 'App Store' as a descriptor of online and mobile software marketplaces.

In a 27-page motion (seen by TechFlash for summary judgment presented to the United States Patent and Trademark Office's trial and appeal board, Microsoft has claimed that "'App store' is generic and therefore in the public domain and free for all competitors to use."

The Xbox firm observed that dictionaries define 'app' as a software application and 'store' as a place where goods are sold.

"Any secondary meaning or fame Apple has in 'App Store' is de facto secondary meaning that cannot convert the generic term 'app store' into a protectable trademark." Microsoft was here referring to the argument that 'app' is also a truncation of 'Apple.'

The motion also notes that both the press and Apple boss Steve Jobs have publicly used the contentious phrase in reference to rival mobile firms' online marketplaces, even though the likes of Android and Windows Phone have found themselves forced to adopt alternative names officially.

Apple filed a trademark for the term in July 2008, and has responded to an earlier pushback by Microsoft by claiming that "the vastly predominant usage of the expression 'app store' in trade press is as a reference to Apple's extraordinarily well-known APP STORE mark and the services rendered by Apple thereunder."

Microsoft seems very keen to battle Apple of late, its Windows Phone 7 apparently a concerted late effort to wrest some of the smartphone market back from its competitor.

However, the company is currently perceived in some quarters as having now also missed the tablet boat - with the Financial Times yesterday alleging that some Microsoft board members are becoming concerned about CEO Steve Ballmer's leadership.

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Alec Meer avatar
Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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