Apple's trademark case against Amazon over the term "app store" appears to be growing more absurd as it goes along. Apple sued the online retail giant for trademark infringement in March in connection with the launch of its Amazon Appstore for Android, which offers apps for Android phones.
In its latest filing, Apple rejects Amazon's claim that "app store" is a generic term for a store that sells application programs.
"Apple denies that, based on their common meaning, the words 'app store' together denote a store for apps," the company stated in its response to Amazon's counterclaim seeking to have the lawsuit thrown out. Huh? What else would it mean? A store for mangos?
The papers filed Thursday in California federal court go on to state: "Apple denies that the words 'app store' are commonly used among many businesses to describe mobile software download services and further denies that the term 'app store market' is used to describe the market for mobile software download services." Looks like Apple is in denial.
It's true, other branded app storefronts such as "Android Market," "BlackBerry App World," and "Windows Marketplace for Mobile" haven't incorporated the term "app store" into their names. But the term is used to generically refer to these types of businesses as a whole, or individually, as in: "Amazon opened a rival app store to the Android Market."
Apple even cites an American Dialectic Society press release earlier this year announcing "app" as Word of the Year for 2010, which states: "App has been around for ages, but with millions of dollars of marketing muscle behind the slogan 'There's an app for that,' plus the arrival of 'app stores' for a wide spectrum of operating systems and computers, app really exploded in the last 12 months."
Nevertheless, Apple reiterates its denial "that the mark APP STORE is generic and, on that basis, denies that the Amazon Appstore for Android service is an 'app store.'" The company seems to be arguing there's only one App Store -- Apple's own mobile software download service. The term "app store" otherwise has no meaning. Which is ridiculous on its face. It can refer specifically to Apple's app portal or another one, depending on the context.
If Amazon had called its service simply "App Store," Apple might have a stronger case for arguing that would cause confusion in the marketplace. But it uses a different formulation, with "Amazon" as part of the name of its app business. There's little chance for confusion, especially since Amazon's apps are only for Anroid devices. Apple may have popularized the term "app store," but it shouldn't be allowed to own it.