Amazon responds to Apple's trademark suit; Cites Steve Jobs in its defense

Amazon today responded to Apple's trademark suit over the term "AppStore". Interestingly, Amazon's answer made use of quotes from Steve Jobs to prove that the term "app store" is generic and not subject to trademark protection.

In late March, Apple filed a lawsuit against Amazon over the online retailer's use of the word "AppStore" in its Amazon Appstore for Android which launched last month. Apple of course is trying to secure a trademark for 'app store' and therefore sees Amazon's App Store as a blatant infringement upon their trademark.

In its suit, Apple accuses Amazon of trademark infringement and unfair competition. Moreover, Apple noted that Amazon did not adequately respond to a number of Apple requests that they cease calling their app store, well, an app store. Notably, Apple is engaged in a similar legal spat with Microsoft over the very same issue, with Microsoft seeking to block Apple's trademark, alleging that "App Store" is a generic phrase that doesn't warrant trademark protection.

Now, a few weeks later, Amazon has finally responded to Apple's initial suit and has asked a Federal Judge in San Francisco to dismiss the suit and issue a declaratory judgment ruling that Amazon isn't infringing on Apple's trademark rights. Interestingly enough, Amazon's answer uses statements from none other than Apple CEO Steve Jobs in an effort to prove that the term 'app store' is a generic designation.

Amazon specifically highlights comments made by Jobs during an Apple earnings conference call held last Fall. During the course of the call, Jobs repeatedly made reference to "app stores" that weren't in reference to Apple's iTunes App Store.

“So there will be at least four app stores on Android, which customers must search among to find the app they want and developers will need to work with to distribute their apps and get paid. This is going to be a mess for both users and developers. Contrast this with Apple’s integrated App Store, which offers users the easiest-to-use largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone.”

So while Apple claims that other companies using the term "app store" will confuse consumers and potentially tarnish Apple's own product, Amazon slyly points out that if Apple's CEO doesn't exclusively use the term "app store" in reference to Apple, why should other companies be precluded from doing the same.

Apple meanwhile, and similar to how it handled the Psystar case of yore, is asking the court to hear the case on an accelerated timetable to offset the potential influx of an avalanche of competing app stores. When it comes to trademark law, the more entities that make use of the term "app store" only works to dilute Apple's own claim to the trademark. In other words, prevailing on the merits of their case today will be a lot easier, relatively speaking, to prevailing on the case 2 years from now when their might be a plethora of mobile store that make use of the "app store" moniker.

via GeekWire

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022