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Friday, July 8, 2011

Apple Can't Stop Amazon from Using "App Store"

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 7:48 AM

click to enlarge Weren't apples famous before Apple?
  • Weren't apples famous before Apple?

In another case of Silicon Valley giants butting heads, a federal judge denied Apple's motion for a preliminary injunction against Amazon and its use of the term "App Store."

Lawyers for Apple argued that the "Amazon Appstore for Android" name infringes on its own App Store, where people purchase and download software specifically for Apple products.

Apple sought the sole rights to the name in 2008, but was rebuffed in 2010 by Microsoft's argument that it's too generic to be trademarked. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trials and Appeals Board hasn't ruled either way yet.

Meanwhile, Apple sent Amazon a cease-and-desist letter in January when it learned about Amazon's Appstore, and then filed for an injunction after Amazon went public with it.

Like Microsoft, Amazon also argued that "App Store" is generic. According to the United States District Court Northern District of California:

Amazon notes, "Fruit of the Loom" is famous, but "underwear" is not; and "Barnes & Noble" and "Amazon" are famous, but "bookstore" is not.

Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton wrote in her decision that while Apple appeared to exclusively use the term when its App Store launched more than three years ago, companies since then have applied it generally to describe a place to get software for mobile devices.

Moreover, the court said it was not clear that people would associate Apple's App Store with Amazon's Appstore.

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