Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words… well they make for lawsuits. That seems to be the attitude of Amazon, which has now had its say in a dispute over the meaning of “app store” that’s already got Apple and Microsoft doing battle.
There’s a slight difference between the two cases: Apple is suing Amazon for using the term to describe its Android offerings, pointing to a trademark it holds on the term, while Microsoft is challenging the trademark application itself.
The main arguments in the latter case come down to how to interpret the term, and how to measure its use. Microsoft argues that because both words are generic and well established in trade, the term itself can’t be trademarked, while Apple says the phrase must be taken as a whole and is therefore original. Both sides claim that the vast majority of uses of the term in the media back their argument, though that appears to depend on which sources you use and exactly what you search for: app store, App Store or even APP STORE.
To make things even more fun, Microsoft even called for an Apple filing in the case to be thrown out as it not only exceeded a page limit on filings in the relevant court, but was also below a mandated minimum print size.
Amazon has now responded to the Apple lawsuit with a countersuit that asks not only for the Apple case to be dismissed immediately, but for a court to confirm that it is not breaching any trademarks.
Like Microsoft, Amazon is arguing that the two individual words are too generic for the phrase to be trademarked. It’s also stressing that the way it uses the term creates no risk of confusion with Apple’s products and services. And in the same way as Microsoft pointed out a reference by Apple chief Steve Jobs to an Android app store, Amazon has highlighted Jobs describing Apple’s service as the “largest app store in the world”, which it says is a clear acknowledgement that other app stores exist and use that name.