Kaylie Moise, November 1, 2012
Apple filed a suit claiming Amazon falsely advertised by using the term “app store,” and at a hearing on Wednesday in Oakland Federal Court, Apple and Amazon went head to head over the use of the name. Amazon argues that the term is generic and can’t be trademarked, while Apple says it set the “benchmark” for buying applications online and it controls the term used online and in print advertising.
In its court filing, Apple said: “A pioneering brand – the first successful brand in a new market – plays a unique role in educating consumers about the product category as a whole while simultaneously building consumer affiliation between the product and the pioneer.”
The judge in this hearing, Judge Phyllis Hamilton, isn’t convinced and argued that everyone who uses a smartphone already knows the difference between Apple’s iOS system and the Android System. She went on: “Where’s the confusion? There’s some suggestions [by Apple] that if Amazon is using the ‘Appstore’ term someone might think they have as many apps as Apple does. Well, why? And how, in fact, does that contribute to any deception on the part of Amazon?”
To back up its claims, Apple conducted surveys before the hearing to show consumer confusion. While the results from the surveys showed that most people associated Apple products with the “app store” term, the judge said consumers weren’t asked directly if they were deceived.
Amazon, and other supporters like Microsoft, object to Apple’s App Store trademark because they believe the term is too generic. Most have said they’re not using the term partially to avoid legal trouble, and not out of special regard for it. Apple has aways argued that the App Store term was in some way a play on its own name and really became more widely used after the iPhone was first released in July 2008.
So in short, the judge doesn’t think Apple has a very strong case. Apple’s attempts to trademark the term “app store” have been stalled by HTC, Sony, and Nokia. Amazon and others have argued that “app” was a word of the year in 2010, and even former CEO Steve Jobs used the term generically when talking about options from competitors.
Looks like the scales of justice are in favor of Amazon on this one…
Image Credit: The Next WebFollow @macgasm