Apple vs. Microsoft: The Battle Over ‘App Store’

by Gaurav Kheterpal on March 2, 2011

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Apple, though, believes the same logic does not apply to app stores. Having secured the slogan “There’s an App for That” as a trademark last year, the Cupertino giant now plans to trademark the term “App Store”.

Microsoft disputed the proposed trademark, claiming that the term is a generic one. Apple returned the pleasantries by saying “App Store” is as generic as “Windows” and Microsoft is “missing the forest for the trees” by its action.

While I agree that Apple and Microsoft have never been the best of buddies, I’m somewhat bemused by this cat fight over a rather petty issue. It’s hard to believe the gigantic war of Mac vs. PC of yester years has finally come down to two words “app store.”

The Windows giant argues in a January filing that both “App” and “Store” are generic, and therefore these terms should not be trademarked. Apple says it first coined the “App Store” term over two years ago, when the world hadn’t seen an app store. While both sides have a valid point, an ‘app store’ is after all an ‘app store’. Apple defines it as a “retail store services featuring computer software for use on handheld mobile digital electronic devices and other consumer electronics”. Further, the company says “the vastly predominant usage of the expression ‘app store’ in trade press is as a reference to Apple’s extraordinarily well-known APP STORE mark and the services rendered by Apple thereunder.”

Apple currently uses the words ‘App Store’, and its competitors have been forced to use alternatives names including Market (Android), App World (Blackberry) and Marketplace (Microsoft). Being an open source evangelist and a keen proponent of the FOSS movement, I have to admit that I’ve never admired Microsoft as a company. I also realize the Windows giant is playing the ’app store’ game based purely on its vested business interests. Despite all these considerations, I strongly believe the term “App Store” should be generic.

The Cupertino giant has already contacted those using the term “App Store” to ask them to stop, or else, be prepared for another legal tussle. Microsoft though plans to stick by its argument and will continue its challenge of Apple’s trademark application. It’s an interesting situation and the future of “App Store” is at stake.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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