Amazon seeks to throw out Apple "app store" advertising claim

Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:29pm EDT

* Amazon says use of "app store" not false advertising

* Apple pursuing trademark lawsuit over "app store" name

By Jonathan Stempel

Sept 26 (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc has asked a federal judge to throw out Apple Inc's false advertising claim in a lawsuit challenging the online retailer's use of the "app store" name.

The claim is part of a March 2011 trademark lawsuit in which Apple, which this year became the world's largest company ever by market value, accused Amazon of misusing its "App Store" name to solicit developers for a mobile software download service.

Apple added the trademark claim last November, soon after Amazon announced the launch of the Kindle Fire tablet and, according to the complaint, began to call its app store "Amazon Appstore" rather than "Amazon Appstore for Android." It said this change could have contributed to confusion among consumers.

But in a filing on Wednesday with the U.S. District Court in Oakland, California, Amazon said the term "app store" has become so generic that its use could not constitute false advertising.

Amazon added that even Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and his predecessor Steve Jobs have used the term to discuss rivals, with Cook having commented on "the number of app stores out there" and Jobs referring to the "four app stores on Android."

"Apple presumably does not contend that its past and current CEOs made false statements regarding to those other app stores to thousands of investors in earnings calls," Amazon said.

"To the contrary, the use of the term 'app store' to refer to stores selling apps is commonplace in the industry."

Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Apple is based in Cupertino, California, and Amazon in Seattle. A hearing on Amazon's motion is scheduled for Oct. 31, and a trial is scheduled for Aug. 19, 2013.

The case is Apple Inc v. Amazon.com Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 11-01327.

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Comments (1)
st.walters wrote:
The main problem with Apple’s claim that “App store” refers only to them is one of history.

Programmers have been using the term “App” as shorthand for “Application” for a long time. We typically call them programs, but App also refers to “Applet” a small program that works within a computer. Often Applet refers to Java based programs, but it’s short handed as “App”.

Apple is relying on the judicial system’s lack of knowledge of programmer slang and I doubt that Amazon’s appraoch has included this historical practice as they’re mostly concerned about the general public. But the fact that a term is commonly used in the technical world PRIOR to Apple’s creation of the “app store” is enough to disallow the case and send Apple’s marketing people packing.

The same can be said about rectangles with rounded corners. You can go back to Windows 3.1 and GEOS and find icons that had rounded corners. The fact that it’s on a phone and not a PC shouldn’t make any difference. In the end they’re both computers. But the judicial system, just like the patent system is hopelessly outdated and the lawyers on all sides continually take advantage of that flaw.

Sep 27, 2012 1:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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