Amazon Responds To Apple’s Trademark Suit
In response to a trademark lawsuit brought by Apple against Amazon for the company’s use of the term “App store,” Amazon claims that the term cannot be trademarked because it is too generic. Amazon filed its response this week in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California, and contended that it did not need to gain authorization from Apple to use the terms to describe its own digital storefront. Amazon claims that Apple itself has made the term “App store” generic, and points to statements from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has called the digital Apple store “the easiest-to-use, largest app store in the world preloaded on every iPhone.” Amazon also cited the American Dialect Society, which recently voted “app” as the Word of the Year for 2010, even though the word “has been around for ages.”
Apple’s App Store launched in 2008, and allows users of iPhones, iPods, iPads, and now even Intel-based Apple computers to download programs from Apple and third-party developers. Apple applied to register the App Store trademark in the U.S. and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the application. However, Amazon insists in its response that it does not need a license from Apple to use the name Amazon App Store. Apple has not yet commented on Amazon’s rebuttal.
While Apple does enter this lawsuit with an approved trademark application from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Amazon has a strong defense. The word “app” has been used long before the year 2008 to describe programs or applications. By putting the name “Amazon” before its App Store, the company has further reduced the likelihood for confusion or dilution of the market. Apple has made the terms particularly famous with the popularity of the company’s iPhone and iPad, but Steve Jobs himself has described Apple’s App Store as one of many of its kind. It will be interesting to see whether the Court is willing to stretch the boundaries of trademark law this far, or whether it will dismiss the lawsuit outright.
For more on this story see “Amazon.com Seeks Dismissal of Apple Lawsuit over ‘App Store’” by Karen Gullo at http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-04-26/amazon-com-seeks-dismissal-of-apple-lawsuit-over-app-store-.html