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Apple surrenders in 'app store' trademark suit against Amazon

'Doesn't matter, customers know the difference anyway'

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After battling it out in the courts for more than two years, Apple has dropped its lawsuit against Amazon over the e-commerce giant's use of the term "app store", claiming legal measures are no longer necessary.

"We no longer see a need to pursue our case," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told Reuters on Tuesday. "With more than 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads, customers know where they can purchase their favorite apps."

Cupertino first brought its suit in March 2011, the same month that Amazon launched its Appstore for Android phones and devices. In it, Apple alleged that Jeff Bezos & Co. were improperly using its trademarked "app store" terminology.

But those claims were quickly challenged by a host of unlikely Amazon allies – including HTC, Microsoft, and Nokia – which argued that "app store" was a term in common use that was every bit as generic as phrases like "book store" or "toy store."

In July 2011, US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton denied Apple's request for an injunction preventing Amazon from using the term, claiming the fruity firm had offered "no evidence to support a likelihood of success" in its case.

"Moreover, there is no evidence that Amazon intended to create an association between its Android apps and Apple's apps, and there is no evidence of actual association," Judge Hamilton wrote at the time.

Her words proved to be prophetic. In January, Judge Hamilton threw out Apple's claim of false advertising on Amazon's part, writing that she found "no support for the proposition." And as the case lumbered on, Amazon's lawyers shot holes in Apple's case, arguing that even the late Steve Jobs had a habit of using "app store" as a generic term.

On Tuesday, Apple's Huguet said that Apple chose to drop the case now because its App Store brand had grown strong enough to not require additional legal protections. But Martin Glick, one of Amazon's attorneys, saw the situation differently.

"This was a decision by Apple to unilaterally abandon the case, and leave Amazon free to use 'appstore'," Glick told Reuters. ®

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