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  • Microsoft Goes Linguistic on Apple in Trademark Case


    Try as they might, Apple will not have an easy time securing the trademark for "App Store." The people at Microsoft simply won't let that happen. And to better ensure that it doesn't, they've hired a linguistic expert to help illustrate why Apple is wrongfully laying claim to a phrase that should continue to exist as generic fair game for all.

    In yet another complaint filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Microsoft has brought in linguistic expert Ronald R. Butters to counter the pro-Apple assertions made by Apple's linguistic expert Robert A. Leonard. According to Microsoft's wordsmith: "the compound noun 'app store' means simply 'store at which apps are offered for sale,' which is merely a definition of the thing itself--a generic characterization."

    "The undisputed facts establish that 'app store' means exactly what it says, a store offering apps, and is generic for the retail store services for which Apple seeks registration," Microsoft claims. "Apple does not contest that its other services are ancillary and incidental to its retail store services. Summary judgment should be entered denying Apple's application in its entirety."

    Butters also blasted Apple for using "online dictionaries" that were meant to lend credence to Apple's unique affiliation with and connection to the "App Store" designation. Butters alleges that "the online 'dictionary' sources Leonard cites were not written by established lexicographers and are without scientific authority. Even so, he included an online source that does, in fact, define app store as a generic term."

    It isn't clear what will ultimately come of Apple's efforts to trademark "App Store." But what is unmistakably apparent is that Apple isn't going to limit its fight to Microsoft. Last week, Apple filed a lawsuit against Amazon for referring to its new mobile software distribution marketplace as an "Appstore."

    Source: CNET
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Microsoft Goes Linguistic on Apple in Trademark Case started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 63 Comments
    1. quidam_brujah's Avatar
      quidam_brujah -
      Wow... does this sound familiar...

      Microsoft Trademark Setback

      Company officials say customers would be in danger of buying inferior products and that rivals would effectively get a free ride at Microsoft's expense.
      Opponents of the software giant, which is now the target of an antitrust investigation at the Federal Trade Commission, argue that it is trying to carve out exclusive use for a word that is as common in the computer industry as "sudsy ammonia" was in cleaning compounds or "the pill" in contraceptives. Both names were rejected by the Patent Office over the years, as was "Light Beer," which the Miller Brewing Company attempted to register as a trademark.
      But, here's the part where Apple could win:
      In a detailed, 31-page letter issued last week, the Patent Office sided strongly with Microsoft's opponents. The letter argued at length that the word "windows" has a generic meaning in the computer industry and was in use long before Microsoft first introduced its product in 1983.
      If Apple can show that 'App Store' was not in use long before Apple introduced it, they could claim they are trying to prevent it from becoming a generic term -- much like the Coca Cola Company sues anyone using the term 'Coke' in anything not referring to their product.
    1. EskimoRuler's Avatar
      EskimoRuler -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kolder View Post
      Well, to be fair. Before apple marketed it. App store didn't even really mean anything. When someone says app store nowadays you automatically know what that means because apple put it into popular culture. It's a brand just like anything else.
      that right, i would say that the have fairgame at trademark
    1. szr's Avatar
      szr -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kolder View Post
      Well, to be fair. Before apple marketed it. App store didn't even really mean anything. When someone says app store nowadays you automatically know what that means because apple put it into popular culture. It's a brand just like anything else.
      I understand your point, but allow me put forth that any webs-site that sell applications of any kind if an "app store" in the generic sense. And I'd even say it wouldn't even be limited to computer software. Application in the abstract can also refer to anything hat can be applied to something, like a compound of some sort, like a store in the mall that sells all sort of ointments, cream, moisturizers, etc. It may sound odd to include that, but it is a point to say that "app store" doesn't have to only exist in the realm of computer technology, and hence another reason why no one should be able to simply own a generic phrase like that. IMHO, it's like trying to trademark "book store."

      Also, placing an application on a computer screen, like the iOS home screen, doesn't suddenly mean it's something you can trade mark. Desktop icons can be named anything (it's even possible to rename icons on the iOS SpringBoard), but people should understand the difference between a name you own and the label below an icon, which is just that, a label, a simple chunk of arbitrary text.

      Quote Originally Posted by Drizahy View Post
      As stupid as it is apple is well in the right to do so. If you have a store online that sells programs to customers by all means call it what it is a application store or program store. Apple made the name App Store and is telling them think of a name yourself even if you just chopped up a word.
      The term "app" is just an abbreviation of the word "application", nothing more than a short hand for it, and as such should not really be considered to be a separate term altogether. Just like how many people write "dept." instead of "department", etc.

      Quote Originally Posted by feidhlim1986 View Post
      In the case with Amazon Appstore =/= App Store

      Appstore is one made up word

      App Store is two words, one of which is made up.
      Actaully "app" is nothing more than an abbreviation for the word "application", which is hardly a made-up word.