back to article Microsoft, Nokia, HTC fight Apple's 'App store' trademark

Microsoft is joining a challenge to Apple's European trademark of Appstore and App Store. The software giant is joining with mobile firms HTC, Nokia and Sony Ericsson to challenge Apple's trademark in Europe. Amazon has filed a similar complaint. The companies want the trademark dismissed as too generic – which might seem a …

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  1. GatesFanbois
    Dead Vulture

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    "which might seem a bit cheeky from the holder of a trademark on the word Windows."

    Oh please. If they had a trademark for Windows in the context of bits of colourless transparent glass commonly found in houses you might have a point but they don't they have a trademark for windows in the context of computer software. Similarly if Apple were applying for a trademark for AppStore in the context of Dogfood I doubt anyone would care but they aren't they are applying for it in the context of a store which sells apps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Windows" was used in computing well before Microsoft

      You know those rectangle boxes with stuff on them, like the very browser you typed into? That's one of them.

      Now if I wanted to release my windowing system and call it AC Windows, Microsoft would come after me.

      Like your name GatesFabois :-) upfront and clear.

      1. GatesFanbois
        FAIL

        Title

        Oh so microsoft is suing other os's which refer to these rectangle things as windows then? No ?didn't think so. Despite trademarking the proper noun for it's OS MS have not made any effort to restrict the use of the phrase windows in computing as a common noun. Apple on the other hand want to trademark appstore as a proper noun and also curtail the use of appstore as a common noun.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Curtailing common noun? Not at all

          There's not curtailing of that here. What Apple has curtailed is other companies starting shops called "App Store", just like Microsoft would curtail me if I started selling computer software called "AC Windows" but is fine with me calling things windows all day long.

          I mean they even litigated over something called "Lindows", image what they would do if it was actually called Windows.

          We get it, you're Gates Fanbois like your name says.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @AC

            Did MS sue for OpenWindows? X-Windows? No, they didn't. The reason that they sued for Lindows was because the company were using the name to imply that the system was MS Windows like to the extent that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. It's called passing off.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Headmaster

              @AC 11:07

              Shows how much you know.. OpenWindow was dead already, why would Microsoft have any interested in suing, it was being replaced by CDE even as Windows 3.11 was coming to market.

              As for your other example maybe it's because it's not called X-Windows, but actually the X Window System. (note the singular Window)

              But I'm glad you bring up the "passing off" concept, because that's exactly what's happening in this particular case.

              1. sisk

                Didn't I read somewhere...

                that Microsoft's lawyers recommended that they accept Lindows' offer to just change their name because they were likely to loose the trademark if the case actually went to court? I can't remember where I read that so it's possible that I didn't. All the same, the term was in common use before Microsoft started using it. By my understanding of the applicable laws that makes it illegitimate.

                App store is another case completely, but it seems pretty generic. I'm clueless on what the law says about that, but I wouldn't be suprised to see the courts decide against Apple.

                1. Doug 3

                  re: Didn't I read somewhere...

                  yes and a clue would be that it was Microsoft who paid millions to Lindows instead of the other way around.

                2. HobbleAlong
                  Paris Hilton

                  What about M$ use of...

                  Isn't this similar to microsloth's use of 'office, 'word', 'money' etc? Sort of do as I say, not as I do on their part.

                  Oh... the opposite of loose is tight. The opposite of win or find is lose.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @@AC 11:07 / Shows how much you know...

                Think about it a bit:

                "OpenWindows was being replaced by CDE as Win 3.11 was coming to market..."

                There were several versions of MS Windows prior to 3.11, as the name sort of suggests, starting in 1985, they were:

                1, 2, 2.1, 3, 3.1

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  @AC 14:39

                  We get it, you don't have a clue about the history of computing.

                  Not many people really used Windows before version 3.0 and even then Microsoft was trying to fool IBM in saying they were dropping DOS+Windows in favour of OS/2.

                  At the time I think they were more counting their blessings that Sun wasn't the one suing them.

                  Don't even say Windows 1 because you couldn't really even buy that, it came free with DTP products like Pagemaker.

          2. Hellcatm

            @AC

            Here is the thing the word app is short for application plus every company that has an "application store" for its tablet, phone, browser, OS, should be able to shorten it. That would be like Mc Donalds trademarking the word "Burger" so no other company could use it then Burger King would be "Hamburger King" (I'm not sure who first used the term burger so I'm just using Mc Donalds as an example. Or someone trademarking the word fries so every other company has to use "french Fries", or the word "Cam" so other companies have to use the word Camera.

            Windows is the name of the OS. No one is saying that apple can't call their OS OSX. They're just saying apple can't trademark the shortened version of the word "Application" So there is the difference and why Windows isn't doing anything wrong and apple is and shouldn't get away with trademarking the word App.

        2. Flybert
          Thumb Down

          @GatesFanbois

          I sold a few domains like WindowsPCgames.com, WindowsPCsoftware.com on eBay and eBay got take down notices from Microsoft's lawyers .. then I got an email from Microsoft lawyers to turn over the WindowsPC****** names I had not sold

          I had completed the transactions before the eBay notice, so I just told them to screw themselves, I no longer owned them, and the ones that didn't sell ( and were basicly worthless anyway ) were very close to expiring, so I just deleted them myself and told them to talk to the registrar .. lol ...

          now, they likely could not have forced me to turn anything over, and it probably wasn't worth the $2000 ICANN fee for MS to go to ICANN .. but they do make the threat ..

          Interestingly .. "Windows PC" is not trademarked .. "Apple PC" is trademarked

          I still own a couple of valuable WindowsComputer*****.com + .net names, yet have not heard from MS about those

      2. Hellcatm

        Ok

        I'm going to trademark the word Burger than sue all the restaurants that sell burgers because I trademarked it. Burger is short for Hamburger just like App is short for Application.. Windows is the name of the software just like Android or Mac OS. You don't see people getting upset because apple has the trademark Mac which mac being short for Macintosh because thats the name of their computer line and OS, just like Windows is the name of Microsoft OS. The problem is that anyone who wants to have an "App" store should be able to because that is a generic name. If apple wanted to trademark their next OS and call it "App OS" that would be fine because it would be the name of their OS but not letting other companies use the word App in reference to their "App store" is to general. Now if someone wanted to call their App store Apple App Store then that would be wrong. Just like anyone can make a restaurant called "name here" burgers.

        Apple will probably loose the suite then everyone will have an app store and apple will be pissed, but oh well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Re: The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      "Oh please. If they had a trademark for Windows in the context of bits of colourless transparent glass commonly found in houses you might have a point but they don't they have a trademark for windows in the context of computer software."

      They have an illegitimate trademark for a word used to describe a concept that pre-dates Microsoft Windows by over a decade. Granting a trademark for Windows is like letting some baker have the trademark "Pies" or "Baps" or "Loaves" - just one of those words on its own - and letting them go around threatening people (remember that wxWindows had to be renamed to wxWidgets under duress) is like letting that baker sue every bakery and food producer in the land that uses "pies" or "baps" or "loaves" in their trading name.

      Oh please, indeed. The whole issue is the blatant monopolisation of common words and concepts in the very domain that they are being used - it has nothing to do with other domains where trademark claims wouldn't stick - and Microsoft and Apple just love these tactics because it deters people from straying anywhere near their precious turf, whether those people had any intention of doing so or not.

      Never mind a title being required, how about a clue?

    3. bolccg
      Stop

      Amen

      This:

      "which might seem a bit cheeky from the holder of a trademark on the word Windows..."

      is not a direct comparison. It would only be relevant if MS had called their software "Operating System". Which, in fact, Apple have come closer to doing ("OS X").

      Presumably if MS *had* called their software Operating System and then tried to restrict others from using that term then the people here who inexplicably support Apple having ownership of something as basic as the phrase "app store" would have given them a solid beating.

  2. RegKees
    Coffee/keyboard

    app

    I'm not so sure this will hold up. Apple coined the term "App" with the introduction of their App store. Plus the similarity in the name; App(le)

    The companies complaining, choose to follow Apple by referring to the software running on their stuff Apps as well, where they could also have come up with some other own hip name for programs running on Mobile Devices

    1. yoinkster
      Troll

      a

      I refuse to believe that is a serious post ... you just cannot possibly be seriously saying that ...

    2. Your Retarded
      Troll

      @RegKees

      You sir are a troll.

      It has been established and discussed many times that the term 'App' was in use long before Apple started using it.

      If you didn't know this already yourself then you are suffering from extreme ignorance and should take steps to correct such.

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Puhleeeeze

      Using app or apps as a contraction for application is as old as the hills, or at least the PC (although probably older than this, but I have no references).

      I'm fairly certain it was in common use in the 1980s. It's difficult to find references, because the Internet didn't exist back then, and most things were documented on paper. Maybe someone could trawl Usenet archives to try and find the earliest reference, or go through the Personal Computer World archives to try to find the earliest example.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Trolls

        You sirs are sheep.

        Where's the proof of this "established" knowledge? Come on, if it's that well established show us an example before Apple, where the term App was used has the general term for mobile applications.

        You better make sure that example was there before 2008 otherwise I'll be ripping your info apart and make you look stupid.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @@Trolls

          Err... The best example I can think of is the adoption of the Apple ][ machine becuase of it's 'killer app' the spreadsheet, also the adoption of the IBM PC with its 'killer app' Lotus 123.

          Furthermore, in the 1980s on the BBC micro, I had my ADFS directories setup as 'apps', 'games', 'docs' which suggests that the term 'app' was around then.

        2. sisk

          @AC 10:44

          "Where's the proof of this "established" knowledge? Come on, if it's that well established show us an example before Apple, where the term App was used has the general term for mobile applications.

          You better make sure that example was there before 2008 otherwise I'll be ripping your info apart and make you look stupid."

          Let's take a look at the wayback machine, shall we?

          http://replay.web.archive.org/20030414024326/http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/entry/app.html

          I believe that pretty well rips your argument apart and makes you look stupid. Have a nice day.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @sisk

            LOL no it doesn't, we're not discussing general "app" here, and even if we were the Oxford English Dictionary already showed us that Apple was the first using the term "app" back in 1985. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/24907

            What I said was let's have proof of that other companies were calling applications running on mobile devices "apps", as a general commercial term.

            So good try, but no cigar. Nice day to you too.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        @Your Retarded

        You'll find that Apple initially used the term "application" after the Apple II was released in 1977 and the contraction thereof "app" soon after that. It was certainly the standard way of referring to software by the time the Lisa came out 6 years later. Now, I'm pretty sure there are only a couple of examples of the word being used prior to that. I'm not saying they coined the term, but they were certainly using the term at least 30 years ago, which is certainly before most of the plaintiffs were in the game, obviously with the exception of Microsoft who until recently were using the term "program" or "software" to describe their offerings. Apple have been producing computers for longer than most of the commentards here have been alive, you'd do well to remember that.

        "If you didn't know this already yourself then you are suffering from extreme ignorance and should take steps to correct such." Ditto.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      seriously

      Are you seriously suggesting that the term App was never used to refer to Applications until Apple started using it? REALLY?

      It really wasnt a common abbreviation of applications before that? REALLY?!?!?

    5. BorkedAgain

      Apple coined "App"?

      Really?

      Are you quite sure about that?

      Reason I ask is that I'm pretty sure I remember using the term fairly extensively years before the iPhone and its related store-of-applications were so much as a twinkle in Mr Jobbie's eye.

      Still, let's not allow mere mundane reality get in the way of a good argument, right? After all, Apple invented the smartphone (years after other companies had started selling them) so why couldn't they also coin a phrase that had been used for years beforehand? Nothing is impossible, all you have to do is *believe*...

    6. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      "Software"

      But , no, no, no, no, no, and no.

      In 1979, VisiCalc spreadsheet was a "killer app", a reason to buy the computer to run that application software (application of general-function computer hardware to a specific practical or aesthetic purpose).

      Admittedly the computer was an Apple II PC, but Apple didn't and don't own the word "app", nor did it depend on the company name "Apple" - as far as I know; this is 32 years ago.

      We've had killer apps ever since.

    7. Andus McCoatover

      In front of me...

      I still have my Agenda. You remember, £200 for 32K RAM, a 5-key chorded keypad, and two little sockets for ROM packs on the top. These were for 'apps' - and (although I can't put my hand on it) were IIRC referred to as such in the manuals.

      (Still works, as does my Commodore SR7919 calc. after 35 years...)

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      * yawn *

      All very interesting, but it doesn't even matter whether Apple used the term 'app' before anybody else. The term became widely used before 'app stores' were even thought of and was understood as applying to applications in general, eg: in the phrase 'killer app'.

      The term 'app store' just combines the accepted meaning of two words in a very literal way. It's like a gerbil retailer trying to trademark 'pet shop'!

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Apps aint Apps sol

      Hmm,

      I always thought it was quite cute how Apple managed to name the Apple Applications Store. The "App" has a double meaning and I think that is quite clever.

      Dweeb

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        @sisk and others

        You asked for proof that the term app was used for mobile devices prior to 2008. Here it is:

        http://lifehacker.com/210731/12-killer-apps-for-palm-pdas

        The article was published in October 2006 and talks about apps for palm devices. I personally remember calling them apps way before them as a regular Palm user.

        sisk, you, Sir, are a troll, and I have found the bridge under which you live. Please report immediately to the fail blog.

        1. sisk
          Coat

          Eh?

          How exactly am I a troll? Someone asked for proof that 'app' was in use before 2008 and I provided it. App has been in use to describe applications in general, including mobile applications, forever. THAT was my point. How does that make me a troll? Did you even read the link I posted?

          Screw it, I'm leaving. And I'll not be reporting to any fscking bridge.

    10. Piro
      Thumb Down

      Apple coined.. app?

      You have to be kidding me. Apple's supposed inventions are usually refinements of something that came before, and then claimed as revolutionary.

      They definitely did not coin the term "app".

  3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Pint

    There's an App Store for that

    One can't really blame Apple for trying, no matter how ridiculous it is. Apple is a company and is duty-bound to try to gain any advantage it can over competitors, they'd be failing in that duty not to try.

    I blame the US Patent Office for creating the situation (even culture and expectation) that the ridiculous and 'with prior art' can get protection which should have been refused.

    When such nonsense is allowed to happen it makes it well worth taking a punt on such nonsense winning again when it has such rewards if you can pull it off. I don't think Apple really expect to win, but it's fair to say they don't necessarily expect to lose, though they likely know they should.

  4. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Microsoft are the worst offenders

    I don't think Microsoft can complain about normal words being trademarked, look at the Office trademarks. Even "Office" is a trademark.

    http://www.microsoft.com/about/legal/en/us/IntellectualProperty/Trademarks/Usage/Office.aspx

    Publisher and Project too. Even the actual word "Word" is a trademark.

    You could be on shaky ground if you called your product Acme Word Processor and Microsoft would argue that it might sound like a tool that processed Word documents.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Are they?

      What like Libre Office, Open Office, KOfiice etc.. or Atlantis Word Processor?

    2. serviceWithASmile

      fair point

      however, a trade mark is a mark that you trade with - if my product is called Air then Air is my tm.

      I'd have no real way to sue anyone for using the word as it has meaning beyond my product, but if they went into competition against me and subsequently used Air to describe *their* product, I'd have grounds for legal action.

      It's all about context and although I think Apple don't have all rights to the word "App", they *do* have a product that is named "Appstore", it is that fact that means they could pursue legal action against someone else making an app store and calling it "Appstore" or having that in the name.

      I think they're a bunch of shady, fanatical thieves myself but to my knowledge, they are not under an obligation to give up their trademark purely because the word has other meanings.

    3. bolccg
      WTF?

      You do know that...

      ..."Office" is not actually an office and when you buy "Word" they don't just sell you something written on a piece of paper, right? Office is an office software suite and Word is a word processing programme. If MS had called their software "Word Processor" or "Software for use by businesses" then you may have a point. But they didn't.

      FFS, how hard is this? App store has zero metaphor to it - it is a literal definition of the thing. That's why it's so stupid to try to trademark it. Imagine I tried to trademark "Shop that sells bicycles" or "Grocery Store" or something. These are literal descriptions of what the business does. Hence they belong generically to the language, not to any one company.

      It is absurd if Google cannot describe their Marketplace as being "an app store". Just as it would be stupid if Mr Green could not describe his fruit and veg stall as being "a grocery store" or Mr Bun could not call his bakery "a bread shop" because some fool, backed by a bunch of blinkered fanboys, was able to get the trademark. It's utterly retarded.

      1. Trokair 1
        Thumb Up

        Indeed

        You sir are correct.

  5. Chris Procter
    Jobs Halo

    Such a generic phrase

    How many online application/games sellers used App Store before Apple brought the term into the public consciousness?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Haha

    I'd love to know what that professor made of the word Windows.

    Nice to see Nokia there as well, being the company that trademarked the expression "Comes With Music", "Mobile Soccer" plus other gems as detailed here http://www.nokia.co.uk/home/site-terms/trademarks.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Just rename it as app shop

    Just rename it as App Shop and get over it - the same way Google has renamed it as "Market".

    1. ScottAS2
      Jobs Horns

      Oh, the irony

      Change your outlet's name. Not that big of a deal.

    2. MrT

      Or...

      ... if Apple want the rights to use the abbreviation "App", everyone else should use a different way of shortening the word "Application".

      How about "Appl. Store"...? Ah no, because "Appl." already mostly brings up Apple links on Google, with or without the punctuation that indicates it's a longer word shortened.

      "Appstor" then? Fighting Napster for an almost identical name must be easier than Apple...

      Apple is not the only retailer of applications. What Apple is basically claiming is the right to be the only company that uses a certain widely used abbreviation of "application" next to a certain widely used word for "retail establishment selling items to the public". "App Store" is not so much a name as a description.

      1. Andus McCoatover

        Progstore?

        For prog(ram)s?

        (Trollstore, for Apple fanbois?)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    A Better Term?

    Application Retail Store Emporium.

    Or ARSE for short.

    1. Chika
      Happy

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      So, should I wish to select a preferred option, I would have to pick my... nonononono! I couldn't say that!!!

  9. Brennan Young

    .app

    has since the introduction of OSX been the Mac equivalent of .exe (and I think it comes from NeXT before that). Unquestionably Jobsian territory.

    I agree with many of the comments above: Especially those who say that Microsoft are in an absurd position after trademarking "Windows" and "Word" - which are single words, and complaining about a pairing of words, which was certainly not on anyone's mind before Apple started selling iPhone software this way.

    Before the iPhone, handheld software was invariably called software, or programs, or categorised as utilities or games or whatever. I don't remember running into the use of the term "app" outside the Apple universe until the iPhone hit it big. It may have been used occasionally by developers, but it was certainly a rarity in marketing contexts. It should be possible to make some kind of statistical analysis using the wayback machine to prove this point.

    Also fully agree with AC that this shows real lack of imagination that they can't come up with another name, like Google have. ExeStore? heheh Well, we know that MS lacks imagination, but HTC and Nokia should perform better than this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: .app

      "I don't remember running into the use of the term "app" outside the Apple universe until the iPhone hit it big."

      The RISC OS 3 desktop had a folder called Apps on the icon bar containing the built-in applications. That pre-dates the iPhone by almost two decades.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But OP was talking about "handheld software"

        and RISC OS3 was definitely not handheld software.

        Try to keep in context next time.

        1. James Melody
          FAIL

          App Store is not just mobile

          http://www.apple.com/mac/app-store/

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Flame

          Re: But OP was talking about "handheld software"

          "and RISC OS3 was definitely not handheld software.

          Try to keep in context next time."

          Try to observe some arbitrary distinction so that a feeble apology can be made, eh? You're saying that wizard-level "oh so hard" desktop computing eschewed the technical term "software" in favour of "apps" back in 1989, but the consumer-level "easy as pie" mobile phone universe clung to the term "software" and never used any other term, or at least nothing like "application" or a shortening thereof? Laughable stuff.

          The "context" you apparently need is a general acquaintance with goings-on in reality.

        3. Jades

          Use of 'App' before 2008

          The OP said "mobile devices." RISC OS 3 was used on the Acorn A4, a small laptop released in 1992. Even if you find an excuse why the A4 doesn't count then the ART newsPAD from 1996 certainly does. It was a tablet computer, with 'pad' in the name. See http://acorn.chriswhy.co.uk/Computers/NC.html for a picture of the NewsPad, noting the icons on the bottom left.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "app" in Oxford English Dictionary

        In case this hasn't already been mentioned, OED has the first quotation for "app" dated July 1985. The word is, however, applied to an Apple product in that quotation: "One step in that direction is Apple's recent beta testing of the new programming tools called Mac App"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Mr

    One has to chuckle a bit at Nokia. There they were, with phones with installable apps the best part of a decade before the Apple App Store arrived (even the monochrome 6310i could install java midlets, from what I remember). They could have taken the market by storm if they'd thought of the app store concept back then, or even when the 7650 came out (first proper smartphone).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed

      The problem was that Nokia was so far up the mobile operator's asses that they couldn't see what people really wanted.

      Mobile operators were full of themselves and wanted people to use their own crappy portals, to charge per app and even per byte used, and Nokia never did anything to counteract that.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey all of you denying that Apple coined the term "app store"

    Look at this Google Trends plot:

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=app%2C+application%2C+app+store

    See that yellow line for "app store". Now look at the date. Yes, that was just about when Apple launched iOS 2.0 with the App Store. Now is there any line before that?

    QED

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Let's assume Apple DID use 'app store' before anybody else.

      Now that it is a generic phrase that people can be expected to understand without qualification it is too late to trademark it.

      Apple have even used 'app store' generically themselves. Conciously or unconciously conceding their own case.

      QED or what?

    2. sisk

      So what?

      So Apple were the first ones to open an app store. Big deal. The argument here is that app and store are both generic terms far predating Apple's use of them (which they are) and that the combination thereof is too generic to be trademarked (which the courts will decide).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC and @sisk

      Well first @AC Apple already trademarked it, so no it's not too late.

      @sisk What do you mean it's too generic? Lots of trademarks are like this. For example Train and Tracker are perfectly generic, yet that didn't stop National Rail from trademarking TrainTracker.

      Microsoft trademarking "Windows" is a bit cloudy and they've had lots of problems keeping it, but "App Store" looks pretty solid.

      1. Oninoshiko
        Boffin

        @+++ath0

        Genericness in the public mind is actually a valid test for a trademark, and as a test, it's not even based on when the trademark was used. There is no "prior art" type requirement in TM law, like their is in patent law.

        TMs can be taken away if they fall into generic usage, this actually happened with Asperin, Freeware, Petrol, and Videotape. All of these where trademarks at one time, but fell into generic useage. Based on this, even *IF* Apple coined the term, AND there are not previous usages, if it is a generic term in the eyes of a lay-person, it can be taken away.

        Both of those are huge "ifs"

  12. Watashi

    OS is to operating system as app store is to application store

    The issue here is that "app" is a word that's been used as shorthand for a software application for years before the iPhone was released. "Store" is also a word that's been used in conjunction with another word to mean a shop for a specific product for many years. "App store" is no different from "shoe shop". It doesn't matter who popularises a term - copyright is about who invents a term.

    However, the shorthand term for an Operating System isn't "windows", it's "OS". The only reason we associate the word "Windows" with an OS is because of Microsoft - after all, the GUI's windows is only one aspect of an operating system. Hence, MS has a valid argument for protecting the use of the word when it is applied to the name of an OS.

    The mistake Apple made was in not coining their own term for a smartphone application so that they could take advantage of their early market dominance to build up an unconscious association between their own name and the generic provision of smartphone applications. They should have done something similar to Shuh, who have not copyrighted the word "shoe" but have effectively protected a word that is instantly synonymous with footwear. If Apple had simply gone with the "iApp Store" then there wouldn't be a problem.

    There is a reason why Apple didn't use iApp store. What the competitors are accusing Apple of is that they're not trying to protect their intellectual property, but restrict the trade of other companies. Apple, they imply, know that if they can stop other companies referring to their own store as an "app store" they can inhibit the sales of their competitor's phones and tablets. This, they will claim in court, should be illegal and so the court should rule against Apple.

    1. bolccg
      Thumb Up

      Amen!

      Halleluja!

  13. RobE
    Coat

    Java *App*let anyone?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Java_applet

    Apps Applets/Applications have been around since the 90s at the very least. Apple just did what no one else was bright enough to do and now they're winning, without anyone else getting a real look-in, everyone is bitching. If I were in Apples position I'd tell MS, Amazon, etc to stop being such a bunch of Whiney babies and get with the times. Amazon is less on my list of DINOSAURS when compared to the likes of Microsoft. But each of these companies lately has displayed a real lack of agility in the market. Something Apple has done with admirable success. Good on them... IF MS and the like can't be bothered to think of their own ideas they shouldn't be in the market... Can't wait to see what the Cloud situation brings, as apple already bought the webside iCloud.com

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Phone, Pub, TV, Car, PC

    Maybe Ford could trademark the word 'car'. That'll help them corner the market.

    Next thing you know, Apple will be suing garages for calling themselves Garages and non Apple users for having a thing call a 'life' (which sounds awfully like 'iLife').

    The argument shouldn't be about whether Apple were the first to use the word 'App', that's bollocks for an argument because that suggests the first person ever to use a word has exclusive rights to that word (anyone sell Mobiles?).

    The question is whether or not Apple SHOULD be able to own the trademark for 'App Store'. If the answer is yes, then also up for grabs are 'Computer shop', 'Car Showroom', 'Gas station' and 'The Pub'.

  15. Rolf Howarth
    Thumb Up

    Apps

    Of course people sometimes used "app" short for application, but there wasn't anything like a uniform app buying experience before Apple introduced their app store. The closest would have been the section in PC World selling boxed software titles (and it would have been called "Software", not "Apps") or a separate online store for each vendor.

    And even if the words have generic meanings on their own, that doesn't mean that it can't be a trademark when combined, eg. "Carphone Warehouse" is a trademark, even though everyone had heard of both carphones and warehouses before they were formed. No one talked about "app stores" before Apple announced they were introducing one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but Carphone Warehouse...

      ...isn't a warehouse and doesn't specialise in carphones. Apple's AppStore, however, is one of several app stores, ie: stores which DO specialise in selling applications.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apps

      "Of course people sometimes used "app" short for application, but there wasn't anything like a uniform app buying experience before Apple introduced their app store."

      That Lindows (oops, Linspire, due to Microsoft's illegitimate "ownership" of "Windows" and how Scooby Doo might pronounce it) service known as Click 'N' Run must have been a bad flashback, then. Oh wait, you (I don't mean you personally, but if the hat fits, please feel free to indulge us) are now supposed to tell us that you meant an "experience" for mobiles only, like mobile computing stuff is a completely different domain, and the bits and bytes in a mobile phone are all rodents made of exotic dark matter scurrying around and marrying each other for a special celebrity gossip magazine run by an impatient space pervert and only available in a completely different dimension, and thus has nothing to do with any other computer mankind or alien beings have ever made.

      Anyway, I actually don't disagree with multi-word trademarks if they aren't themselves generic descriptions of things. Carphone Warehouse gets off the hook because even though mobile phones were probably more suited to automotive use once upon a time, the "warehouse" label is more of a retail positioning statement rather than a literal description of the retail outlets.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Mark .

    "But Officer, everyone else was speeding too!"

    If app store isn't the generic term for a store that sells apps, what is?

    As for Windows, too wrongs don't make a right.

    For all the people mentionining Linux - MS *lost* their initial case against Lindows, but then settled out of court to avoid the risk of losing altogether. If Apple want to bring a case against the use of Windows, then they should do so. Chances are, they would win.

    But that doesn't given them the right to claim ownership too to parts of the English language.

    "But Officer, everyone else was speeding too!"

    (Also GatesFanbois makes a good point - whilst MS's trademark is dubious, at least they don't have the cheek to sue people who are using the term "Windows" in its generic computing sense.)

    "They could have taken the market by storm if they'd thought of the app store concept back then"

    Nokia _did_ take the market by storm - and still are the number one smartphone and phone company. Don't let the media obsession with Apple fool you. (Although yes, it's true - I bet they wish they had thought of the app store idea of palming 30% profit off of software developers. Personally as a developer, I wish no company had thought of this...)

    "but there wasn't anything like a uniform app buying experience before Apple introduced their app store. ... or a separate online store for each vendor."

    Wrong, there were all kinds of online stores (both free and commercial). And if you mean uniform - well, no, it's not uniform. There's still plenty of stores for each platform; and we have multiple "offical" app stores (Nokia's, Apple's, Google's, RIM's, MS's, etc)

    1. Your Retarded
      FAIL

      Let's learn to count

      Wun, too, free...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    "Mobile phone" was Nokia trademark

    "Mobile phone" was Nokia trademark from 1991 to 1995, if I recall correctly. But it became as generic term to err.... you probably guess: mobile phones -> Nokia lost the trademark rights for those two words. As "appstore" is generically used for describing net based service where you can buy applications, Apple's "app store" / "appstore" trademark should be revoked.

    Actually this trademark should not been given to Apple in first place, as "app store" was generic term already in the time of submission of the trademark application.

    1. Kristian Walsh
      Thumb Up

      Interesting,

      I agree with you about becoming generic, but I think the phrase "mobile phone" wouldn't have been as generic at the time as it seems from the standpoint of the 21st century where everyone (in the UK) calls them that. For a start, prior to "Mobile Phone", any other common phrases of "Mobile X" meant "an X on wheels", not "an X carried with you".

      And, on that subject, why not "hand phones"? After all, that's what Germans call them ("Handy"). Or, closer to home for me, the Irish for mobile phone ("fón póca") translates back to English as "pocket phone" - to me both of these are more likely names than "Mobile phone", and "Cell phone" is still the predominant form in the USA.

      It's fascinating how names for new things arise - it's hard to pin down when exactly a thing became known by its common name. Unless you're in Iceland, of course - there, they have competitions to add new words to Icelandic to describe new things: a true Open Source language (take that, Java! :) )

      Quite possibly it was Nokia's high profile when this market was new that provided people with the ready-made name "mobile phone". After all, "Sellotape" joined us this way: a new thing that needed a name, so it took on the brand name of its best-known maker (as did "Tesa" in Germany and "Scotch tape" in the US, for the same reasons).

      Even now, you can see the name shifting from "mobile phone" or "mobile" to just being "phone", in the same way that "colour television" became "television", and "motor car" became simply "car".

  18. JFK
    Pint

    Beginning to see APP.les point on this one

    An article on the beeb pointed me in the direction of app revenue figures for 2010 courtesey of the IHS screen digest organisation.

    "IHS Screen Digest estimates that £1.1billion of revenue flowed through Apple's App store last year. Android Market managed just £62m. The figure was lower than both Blackberry App World (£100m) and Nokia's Ovi store (£64m). Research predicts massive improvements for Android by this time next year, but it is still expected to lag far behind iOS."

    When your market share of app revenue is 4.8 times the sum of your competitors. You will be protective of your name.

    Even if you look like a pedant doing so...

    -------------------------------------

    Beer as the whole thing is beginnig to look like a pub table arguement ... and i've the friday thirst...

    1. DryBones
      Megaphone

      Rubbish...

      $1, $1B, who cares? The question is if "app" is too generic to copyright. Which it is, to say nothing of the fact that they are trying to copyright a class of items, not a single item. It's like trying to copyright "fruit". They have their specific fruit, but cannot protest if Watermelon get a neat idea. I might advance a tenner to see them get into it with Orange for giggles though. NEXT!

  19. Gobhicks
    Headmaster

    Tricky fella, Johnny Trademark

    FWIW and whether you like it or not...

    There are "trade marks" and there are "registered trade marks".

    If you can successfully register a trade mark you gain certain statutory rights. You generally can't register a trade mark that is not "distinctive", so generic words that are descriptive of your goods or services usually can't be registered as trade marks. However, an inherently non-distinctive trade mark can acquire distinctiveness through use, over time. You can register it if you can provide evidence that it has come to be strongly associated with your particular goods and services. This usually needs years of consistent use and substantial turnover figures.

    You can apply the "TM" superscript to anything you use as a trade mark, whether it's distinctive or not, and over time you will acquire some common-law rights in the mark (as distinct from the statutory rights you get from registration). It's much harder to enforce such rights, but the "TM" discourages others from adopting similar marks.

    M$ applied "TM" to WINDOWS for many years before they were able to register it successfully.

    IMHO, Apple don't have enough use to have "acquired distinctiveness" in App Store, and the more that others use similar termionology in the meantime, the weaker their case will become.

  20. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Copyright is not the same as patent

    There is no prior-art for copyright, it becomes yours when you register it - or even just through use. It's also surprisingly easy to lose.

    Do you think McDonalds was the first store to be owned by anyone of that name? Finding a previous restaurant owned by a Mr McDonald does not change their copyright claim.

    You can also get copyright purely by somebody associating something with your product - a sound, smell or (in europe) the way something moves. If people think appstore=apple in the same way that they think PC=windows then it's valid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: Copyright is not the same as patent

      "There is no prior-art for copyright, it becomes yours when you register it - or even just through use. It's also surprisingly easy to lose."

      We're talking about trademarks here, not copyright. Please slide down the snake to square one and roll the dice again.

    2. Oninoshiko
      FAIL

      Trademarks are not the same as copyright

      wow... this post is almost completely wrong, and where is't not wrong, it's a non-sequitor.

      Copyrights do not require registration. In every Berne-convention country, they exist at the time of creation (or something smiler, "committed to fixed media" is one such term). Registration only permits additional damages, and I'm not even sure that is true of all Berne-signatories.

      McDonalds does not have a copyright on the name, they have a trademark. Finding anything does not change the copyright claim, because they don't have one.

      And no, you cannot get a copyright because someone "associated something with your product." If you could, I'm fairly sure the estate of Phillip K Dick would be pretty pissed when they lose copyrights to "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" because of Google's OS.

      In the US somebody associating something with your product, does not make a trademark either. You (as the maker of the product) have to create the association. If anyone making the association, think of the number of companies who would be vying for "Crap." To boot, the application of European law is in no way, shape, or form relevant. This is before a US court, between entities operating in the US. US courts don't really care about european law, and even if they did, they wouldn't be properly qualified to make any decisions about it.

  21. John Styles

    Steely Dan

    Surprised Google didn't call it the 'Android Warehouse' after the early Becker and Fagan song, I sure B & F would take the money.

  22. Dr Wadd

    Tron 2.0 : Killer App

    Released for the XBox in 2004, suggests that back in 2004 the publishers felt that the term "app" was sufficiently widespread to allow customers to understand the title.

  23. Herba
    Jobs Halo

    The key is app is short for applications

    Apple did brough the term "App Store" in volume to the world. The key point here is App is short for Application.

    Now the problem is they should had file a patent for it back in 2008, not now. Thanks to Apple "App Store", the therm App is now used for application on a massive scale. Basiltly its too late to patent it.

    1. Your Retarded
      Troll

      They are not trying to patent it

      And you cannot patent a word. Please engage brain before typing words.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Semiotics and linguistics ...

    Not skills seemingly known to Apple's marketing department,

    Kinda like "Prior Art" being a construct apparently not being known to their legal department.

  25. D. M
    Jobs Horns

    app

    Apple (and its army of fanboy/girl) is full of shit. I don't know about many old geeks here, I clearly remember around mid 90s, app was widely used as short of application software. The most used was "killer app". I'm sure app was already a publicly recognized term for "application" long before iPhone. "App store" is no different than "shoe warehouse" or "pet shop" in term of the usage.

  26. Kristian Walsh

    "App" was widely used within Apple - is that good or bad?

    Just about everyone I worked with in Apple called programs "Apps" or "Applications", especially the Cupertino people. It wasn't the first time I'd heard the term, of course (my old, old Atari ST, running Digital Research's GEM used both "prg" and "app" as a file extensions for applications software), but within Apple it was very much the preferred term for "program"

    This, of course, cuts both ways - the fact that it was so widely used within the company, to the point that you'd be hard pressed to pin down a first use, is also a strong argument against any claim of originality.

  27. Flybert
    Coat

    fine .. fine ..

    everyone else should just start calling an application "Appli", applications "Applis" and Application Stores "AppliStores"

    Then Apple can't bitch .. right ?

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