September 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Poll: Should Apple Own the Trademark ‘App Store?’

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Here we go again.

Apple, whose co-founder Steve Jobs loved to quote Picasso’s take on proprietary ideas (“Good artists copy, great artists steal”), says it owns the phrase “app store,” and that no other company can call their app store an “app store.” This is probably why the other “app stores” are called Google Play, Windows Phone Marketplace, Blackberry App World, Intel AppUp, Palm App Catalog, and Amazon Appstore for Android.

apple app store trademark amazon

Notice which one of these is different? Yes, Amazon is using “appstore,” albeit as one word. That’s why Apple sued Amazon over the term. On Wednesday, Amazon asked a federal judge to dismiss Apple’s lawsuit against Amazon over its use of Apple’s trademark for “App Store.”

The word “app” existed as a shortened form of the generic term “application” long before Apple released the iPhone in June 2007, which didn’t even run third-party apps at the time. As for the word “store,” well, that should be off the table so far as trademarks. But what about the two words together, with or without a space?

When this issue surfaced last year, we asked an attorney for some free advice. Trademark expert Douglas Isenberg told that Apple’s trademark application specifically calls these apps “computer applications” rather than smartphone applications, which he said makes them less generic. He also told us that this all basically comes down to whether consumers think of an “app store” as something distinctly Apple, which isn’t too far off, actually. Apple did invent (or at least popularize) the idea of an “app store” in the sense of the word as we now know it, and in the sense that all of these other companies know it too.

From that earlier article,

The basic issue here is whether [Apple] has created the public impression that it’s the company with an “app store” providing the three goods and services described in its trademark application: an online retail store for “computer software,” a system for transmitting data, and a method for repairing and updating “computer software.”

So, what do you think?

(Image courtesy of Flickr/waferboard)