Is the Apple App Store a Generic Trademark?

By Joseph Mandour on November 4, 2011

iphone-apps-thumb-200x132-33993 San Diego, CA – “App Store” may be synonymous with Apple’s electronic storefront for handy software applications but the term could be too descriptive to merit trademark protection.

In an effort to protect the “App Store” trademark, Apple once again finds itself embroiled in a legal battle, this time against both Amazon and Microsoft. Amazon recently opened the “Amazon Appstore” for the Android operating system, Google’s mobile operating system. While Microsoft’s application storefront goes by the dissimilar “Windows Marketplace for Mobile,” they have chosen to enter the battle nonetheless, perhaps to get back at Apple for attacking the Windows trademark throughout the years as being too descriptive itself. However, Intel has chosen to avoid entering the fray and instead named its application storefront “Intel AppUp.”

A trademark must identify and distinguish a company’s product or service from those sold by others. A term is merely descriptive or generic when it merely employs the common name of a product or service or describes it rather than designates the source of goods. Perhaps the true issue is that Apple itself created such a popular term in “app store” that the general public forgot who was the first to coin the term. No one can argue that Apple was the first to coin the term “App Store,” with its original electronic storefront that opened in 2008, compared to the Amazon “Appstore” which did not open until 2011.

As part of this dispute Apple has alleged that the “App” in App store is short for Apple rather than Application. We’re not sure most consumers would see it that way. At first blush, we think that Apple will be hard-pressed to get this trademark registered – but stay tuned.

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