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back to article Microsoft disputes Apple's 'App Store' trademark

Microsoft is contesting Apple's trademark claim for the term "App Store", calling that term too generic to be granted protection. "Apple seeks to exclusively appropriate the phrase 'App Store' for use with its own store offering apps," says Microsoft's Opposition filing with the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. That …

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Gates Horns

.exe

Surely Microsoft's should be called the executable store?

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Joke

@.exe

Presumably on the grounds that it will be filled with stuff that you'll want to shoot in the back of the head?

Is that bent-metal b*stard from Office still around?

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Jealousy

Microsoft is jealous, as who would ever want to visit "The Exe Store"?

For those who don't know, Macintosh applications generally bear a .app extension.

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Badgers

fine...

call it the .app store then

I recall using the word "app" and the expression "killer app" in the late 80s, early 90s, which given my ability to be ahead of the curve probably meant they were passe then.

The killer application for them new fangled PCs was then generally held to be Lotus 1-2-3 (or was it Visicalc?)

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Anonymous Coward

extensions

But who knows that? I thought Macs were all about getting stuff done and it doesn't matter what's "under the hood"

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WTF?

WTF?

Why the hell does this take a complaint from microsoft?

Surely any sane person should realise Apple is taking the piss.

What next, McDonalds trademarking the term "Drive through" or "Take Away"?

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All about the timing

I am sure if McD launched the 'Drive Thru' concept today their lawyers would be attempting to trademark the name and probably the process too (where possible).

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lindows

Microsoft trademarked windows and it doesn't even like made up works similar to windows being used like lindows.

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It's

'Drive Thru' for some reason...

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A title is required

"What next, McDonalds trademarking the term "Drive through" or "Take Away"?"

Indeed. Or a company trademarking "Windows" for a windowing extension to its operating system, or...

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Grenade

@chriswakey

I think you will find that it is now known (near me at least) as the 'McDrive'.

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Troll

re: What next, McDonalds trademarking the term "Drive through" or "Take Away"?

or "The Real Thing"?

Oh wait....

I suspect "Application Store" would be turned down, but as "App" isn't a real word, it does has a chance of getting through.

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Pint

Endless comedy

And all thanks to the USPTO.

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Gates Halo

Pot, kettle, black?

I agree that 'App store' is a tad generic, but is it as generic as 'Windows'?

I think not...

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Windows

Yes I agree it is a generic term. But not in software / computing. Your not going to confuse someone selling Windows for your house with Windows software and at least as far as I am aware they have not gone after any makers of windows you see through..

'App Store' on the other hand is generic in the Industry it is used in.

Make sense to me.

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Grenade

Spot the generic words

Windows Phone 7

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Anonymous Coward

It would be

"Windows" would be a very generic trademark, but the trademark is actually "Microsoft Windows". You only get in touble for using words like Windows when you're selling an Operating System, as the Lindows people found out.

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Happy

Makes sense but only if you cherry pick your facts...

Windows are generic in the computing industry too - GEM, Xerox, Amiga et al, all implemented WIMP systems and what does the W stand for?

Oh and Microsoft most certainly went after Lindows.

It might be interesting to ask Microsoft to remove their trademark against the word "Windows" in return for the right to use the phrase "App Store". As it's exactly the same the same point of principle I wonder which way they'd jump?

No disrepect to my transatlantic cousins as I know we in the UK get things pretty whacked out at times, but you gotta love some of these craziest examples of American Behaviour :-)

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Stop

nonsense

sorry, but that is utter nonsense. you could use the same argument for using the term OSX seeing as it is simply an abbreviation of Operating system 10. The word "windows" in relation to a title for an operating system is quite obviously trade-markable seeing as it isn't descriptive but nomenclative, just like linux and iOS. MS have never pursued anyone for referring to an open display are on the computer screen as a window.

The term "app store" however is descriptive and generic, just like toy store or supermarket. I seriously doubt toys-r-us can lay claim to the term toystore or wallmart to the term supermarket.

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irony

the great irony with windows phone 7 is it doesn't have any windows.

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Nonsense, indeed

"Windows," even in computing, is first and foremost descriptive. "Microsoft Windows," "Windows 7," "Windows Vista," etc., etc. are nomenclative. However, there have been far too many windowing products in computing history, including several still in use today (X Windows, anyone?) for just the term "windows" to be definitively nomenclative among any but the ignorant or the arrogant - which, I will admit, has apparently included several courts, etc.

-d

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Headmaster

et en Francais?

In these internationalisation days, I wonder if the same fuss is being made in French, Urdu, Mandarin or Welsh?

Thought not.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: et en Francais?

That's a real problem. A term that is simply descriptive in one language might be registrable as a trademark in a country that speaks a different language. Countries in the EU then recognise each others' trademarks, and we end up with everyday words being "propertised".

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You'll typically find with french

Specifically with french, if a new word is required they tend to use the English word, not true for everything, but most.

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I believe...

I've been told that the UK uses the same criteria for genericity with foreign words as English ones in trademarks.

Which leads me to want to start up a consultancy containing the word "aon" in its title. I mean, seriously, do Aon really think that they can trademark a name that is nothing more than "one"?

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Happy

Re: You'll typically find with french

That's always followed by the word cropping up on the next list of heinous affronts to French culture accompanied by a shiny, new French neologism from the Académie française to replace it.

Which nobody outside the snottier parts of French government and academia ever uses.

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Yag
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Like the utterly ugly "mél"

supposed to replace e-mail?

I'll just send some courriels instead...

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App

Of course it helps when "App" just happens to be the first 3 letters of "Apple"

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Anonymous Coward

Eh?

They already have an Apple Store, they'd probably get away with trademarking Apple App Store, but App Store seems just too generic.

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WTF?

APPle... My thoughts, too

I think mircosfot is just bitter. It's wasting time and money on a frivolous, bogut tangent. When will that company ever learn to succed on merit, not obfuscation, hijackery, lies, and so on. It's mostly successful due by brute force and default installation, not because people LOVE microsoft.

I'm not an Apple products consumer (although our IT guy was dumping an old G4, and i said, "I'll take it!", probably more out of junk collecting than actually expecting to be productive, and MacBooks/Pros are woefully beyond my affordability range, and while i do like some amount of fashion sense matching my hardware, i don't cravenly put it first, nor deify the makers of my software or hardware, and even as a Linux user, I don't deify Torvalds.... so, there you have that much...)

JEEz, ms, just shut up and make a "WinAppsStore", dammit. Quit kvetching at the distraction of USPTO and other courts! They're busy enough and already corrupted enough with IT/IP shenanigans. Get over it!

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Why not iStore?

Just wondering what they didn't do with the i prefix they do for all their other products? Why not iStore Hmmm... Anyways, think MS is right in this term, and hopefully the silly USPTO removes this 'trademark'.

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Anonymous Coward

Where did "app" come from?

I don't remember people talking about "apps" before the iPhone app store. It was always programs, software, or applications on the Mac but I don't recall apps.

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See the post on Killer Apps above

–noun Computers Informal.

an application; application program.

Origin:

1985–90; by shortening

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Happy

I've worked in apps dev for 20 years

so I think Microsoft are correct to challenge this.

It's just a generic word used in IT generally.

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Agree and disagree

Yes, "app store" is the generic term for a store selling applications, now.

But, personally, the first time I heard that term was in relation to Apple's "App Store".

Isn't this like saying that they should take away Hoover's trademark as almost everyone (in the UK at least) uses the expression "hoover" to mean vacuum cleaner?

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Grenade

RE: Agree and disagree

I see your point, but it's fundamentally flawed.

"Hoover" has entered the common parlance as a generic term since becoming a trademark -- a trademark based on something that was not a "word" before, but a name.

"App Store" has already entered the common parlance prior to the granting of a trademark, coupled with the fact that it is composed of two words already in common usage (I concede that "app" was more common in the IT arena, but store is ubiquitous).

Common sense dictates that it's too late.

To follow your analogy, it would be similarly too late for Hoover to turn around and trademark "vacuum cleaner" (not that they even invented it, but I digress).

That said, I could only speculate as to often common sense informs USPTO decisions.

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Hoover and Xerox

Xerox very nearly did lose their trademark because it became a popular phrase to describe photo-copying: "to xerox something".

Having said that, Hoover and Xerox are hardly generic words / terms (they became generic through use), where as App Store, it could be argued, started off using a generic phrase, and is being used more and more as a generic term (I suspect by the media and Mr Jobs himself, more than the end user).

I think it's correct to challenge the trademark. If MS can keep "Microsoft Windows" (which I personally disagree with), then Apple should have "Apple App Store". But not just "Windows" nor just "App Store".

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From the company that brought you...

"Windows" and "Office"

and sued "Lindows"...

"Sock Shop" "just" sell socks...

What's the point... I give up...

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Anonymous Coward

learn to history

While Microsoft did sue to protect its "trade mark" they looked like they would probably lose, and not wanting to have their trade mark deemed to generic they just bought the name for $20million dollars instead.

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@burnttoys

'Sock shop' aren't trying to sue other shops that sell foot related accessories for violation of a trademark!

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How amusing

Coming from the company that managed to get a trademark on the word windows, a dictionary word.

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Context, context, context

Windows as we have in houses are not the same business area.

'App' however is in context

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Re: More context...

But "windows" as in visual object containers in a graphical user interface, are the same in the computer industry, and it is a generic term coined even before Microsoft existed.

-dZ.

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Stop

Where Apple lead

The rest will follow. Stoopid stoopid patent trolling begets ridiculous counter claims.

In this case, I actually think Apple do have a leg to stand on. They created the whole App store thing and everyone else jumped on the band wagon. Before 'Apps, I'm sure they were called programmes and applications that were either, freeware, shareware or licensed.

Microsoft's beef is they didn't think of it first. Perhaps their store should be called 'Malware' because as any fool knows, microsoft = malware.

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Anonymous Coward

Did Apple coin the term?

For clarification, this is more a question than an assertion. I don't recollect ever hearing the term "App Store" or even "App" prior to Apple's use of them with the iPhone. There were Applets and Applications, and MS seems to like the term "Programs". It seems to me that the terms "Apps" and "App Store" really only appeared (and came into common use) with the iPhone.

If this is the case, it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that Apple should have some rights with respect to these terms. No doubt MS and others desperately want a piece of the "App" and "App Store" action, but I recall a time when they were all laughing at Apple's attempts (Hi Steve Balmer). I'm not impressed that they now claim these same ideas should be considered commonplace.

But if the terms "App" and "App Store" were already in use, and Apple merely popularised them, it would be ludicrous for Apple to make claims on them. Can anyone pinpoint prior examples?

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Yes, they coined the term, but...

"App store" was an Apple coinage, but it was coined in a generic way.

As others have already stated, "app" and "store" were both generic terms. More importantly, the pattern <something> store is a very common generic pattern.

MS's main argument is that showing a generic word into a generic pattern gives a generic result.

Imagine someone invented a hoverboard (like in Back to the Future 2). What term would you use to describe a place that sells them? "hoverboard store" (US) or "hoverboard shop" (UK). You wouldn't expect the first place that sells hoverboards to get that as a trademark, would you?

That merely leads to goldrushes, not genuine innovation or creativity.

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Go

1990 early enough

'App' was in common usage way before 'Web' or 'Internet' were. Finding an old reference online could be a bit tricky, but here's an article from 1990.

http://books.google.ca/books?id=rFAEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT91&lpg=PT91&dq=%22killer+app%22+dos&source=bl&ots=95hxw4m418&sig=7YCEbS1PmHS0cj41ZEOZx6OR9po&hl=en#v=onepage&q=%22killer%20app%22%20dos&f=false

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What a joke!

"The undisputed evidence shows that 'app store' is a generic name for a store offering apps"

An unbelievably vague description that could also affect any site like Softpedia or Downloadpal.

They should have trademarked "Apple Store" so we could see Grany Smith in court suing them

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Paris Hilton

Feel the pain?

Does one detect a sense of pain in MS announcement?

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