Feeds

Apple, Amazon trademark spat turns surreal

'Our app stores aren't app stores'

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Apple has slapped back at Amazon in their messy legal tête-à-tête over whether the online megaretailer's Appstore for Android is a violation of Apple's trademark for the term "app store" – and its arguments are becoming increasingly surreal.

"Apple denies that the mark APP STORE is generic and, on that basis, denies that the Amazon Appstore for Android service is an 'app store'," Apple's legal team claims in a brief filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California on Thursday.

Among its point-by-point admissions and denials of Amazon's point-by-point April 25 rebuttal of Apple's original point-by-point March 18 lawsuit is an admission that, yes, Steve Jobs did indeed hurt his own case. After admitting that apps on mobile devices are, indeed, often referred to as, well, "apps", the filing adds: "Apple further admits that its CEO, Steve Jobs, in October 2010 called the APP STORE service 'the easiest-to-use largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone'."

Which would seem to indicate that Jobs believes an app store is a place that sells apps, correct? Ah, but things aren't that simple in the funhouse-mirror legal laugh-scape.

Case in point: the filing also concedes that the Oxford English Dictionary defines an app as "[a]n application, esp. an application program," and that a store is, indeed, "a retail establishment selling items to the public: a health-food store."

These statements would seem to admit the obvious: that an app store is a store that sells apps. Apple, however, argues the opposite. "Apple denies that, based on their common meaning, the words 'app store' together denote a store for apps," the filing reads.

About what other possible meaning the words "app store" might have, the Cupertinian oracle is silent.

What's more, the filing contends: "Apple further denies that Amazon and Apple operated 'app stores'." The legal reasoning here appears to be pretzellian in the extreme: since an app store is not a store for apps, Apple's App Store and Amazon's Appstore are not app stores, but an App Store and an Appstore – and the Appstore is violating Apple's trademark on App Store.

Or so it seems.

Apple's Amazonian dust-up over the words "app" and "store" and their various combinations is not the only legal battle over those two words. After Apple filed for a trademark on the term "app store", Microsoft challenged that filing, arguing that "The undisputed evidence shows that 'app store' is a generic name for a store offering apps."

Nothing is ever "undisputed" when trademarks are involved, however. Apple contested Microsoft's arguments (in a font that Microsoft claimed was too small), saying that Microsoft was "missing the forest for the trees," and reminding the court of Redmond's use of the word "windows".

Microsoft – surprise! – responded to Apple's allegations, saying in a further legal filing: "Apple cannot escape the hard truth: when people talk about competitors’ stores, they call them 'app stores'."

The dispute has also spread to Europe, where Microsoft joined HTC, Nokia and Sony Ericsson to challenge Apple's trademark claim for the term "app store" in that part of the world. ®

Bootnote

What all of this trademark wrangling brings to mind is an exchange between Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master – that's all."

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.