Microsoft doesn't want Apple to have a trademark on "App Store"

Microsoft does not want Apple to gain a trademark for the term "App Store" and is currently fighting to be able to use the term for its own mobile application store. They have recently asked the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to refuse the trademark on the term "App Store" for Apple because they claim it is too generic of a name and they feel Apple doesn't have the right to lay claim to the term.

Any secondary meaning or fame Apple has in 'App Store' is de facto secondary meaning that cannot convert the generic term 'app store' into a protectable trademark. Apple cannot block competitors from using a generic name. 'App store' is generic and therefore in the public domain and free for all competitors to use.

Microsoft is also pointing out that the media commonly refers to application stores across all mobile platforms as "App Stores" and they even go as far as stating that Steve Jobs himself has used the term as a generic form when referring to the Android "App Store."

Apple stands by the fact that when people think of and refer to "App Store" it is in reference to Apple's App Store and is not being used as a generic term.

The vastly predominant usage of the expression 'app store' in trade press is as a reference to Apple’s extraordinarily well-known APP STORE mark and the services rendered by Apple thereunder.

As of now Microsoft and others will have to stick with their current application store names until the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office makes their final ruling. It doesn't seem to make sense for Microsoft to want to rename their current application store nor would it seem worth it for Google to rename it's store but when it comes to competition and technology you never know. What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you think Apple has a right to what Microsoft refers to as a generic term or should it be available for anyone to use?

[ TechFlash ]

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!


← Previously

PlayStation official app now available in Europe

Next up →

iPhone Bug: Can't connect to cellular data network

Reader comments

Microsoft doesn't want Apple to have a trademark on "App Store"


This is my own iPhone. already I have given my e.mail & my address. I purchased including "Internet" But, the problem is"Very Often I do n't get Connection with the Internet. Now, Requesting to help (514) 9933587. Thanks.

I def think apple should be able to trademark "app store" because they got there first. To bad for you Microsoft.

Microsoft, as always, is late to the party. It's as if they invented the term "App." Let's remember that for decades Macintosh Programs were called Apps (found in the Applications folder) and Windows Programs will "Programs" found in the Programs folder. Now MS wants to pretend it called them Apps??? They should name their future App Store the Microsoft Programs Store (sexy name!)

That term definitely should be available for anyone to use. It's not like Apple were the first to use it either, their "App Store" just got the most popular.

The term "App Store" was not used before Apple used it to describe it's mobile application's store.
The words app and store are generic. Their usage combined might also be generic in some instances (though this is debatable, in my opinion). However, when you use "App Store" to describe an online distribution store for applications designed in a specific way with a focus on smart phones then the term "App Store" becomes very specific.
It refers unequivocally to Apple's App Store. The fact that every other mobile application distribution store specifically created other, similar or approximate names lends credence to Apple's claim. The fact that Android calls its store an App Market, and BlackBerry calls its store App World, means that both companies have acknowledge that Apple has de facto ownership of the term App Store.
Their claim is being made on that basis: in terms of mobile applications markets, the term App Store is unique. It is not a generic term, it refers to specifically to Apple's App Store, which industry competitors have implicitly acknowledged.
This is exactly why Facebook was trademarked as such. The term facebook is a generic term, and even its compositional words face and book are generic. But when Facebook is used to describe a social network where people can make "friends" and share photos and so forth, the term Facebook becomes specific.
That's also the basis of Facebook's claim for "face" and "book" - they were the first to use either of these generic terms in the context of a social network, and it is on that basis that their claim is legitimate (though, I concede, no less frustrating from the standpoint of common sense fairness).
Please learn more about how trademarks work before commenting. I don't claim to be an expert, but even a minimal amount of googling would demonstrate such to be the case.
A genericized trademark (also known as a generic trademark, proprietary eponym) is a trademark or brand name that has become the colloquial or generic description for or synonymous with a general class of product or service, rather than as an indicator of source or affiliation ("secondary meaning") as intended by the trademark's holder. Using a genericized trademark to refer to the general form of what that trademark represents is a form of metonymy.
A trademark is said to fall somewhere along a scale from "distinctive" to "generic" (used primarily as a common name for the product or service rather than an indication of source). Among distinctive trademarks the scale goes from strong to weak:
"Arbitrary": having no meaning as to the nature of the product
"Fanciful" or "coined": original and having little if any reference to the nature of the product or service
"Suggestive": having primarily trademark significance but with suggestion as to nature of product
"Descriptive": not just suggesting, but actually describing the product or service yet still understood as indicating source
"Merely descriptive": having almost entirely reference to the product or service but capable of becoming "distinctive".
A trademark is said to be genericized when it began as distinctive but has changed in meaning to become generic. A trademark typically becomes "genericized" when the products or services with which it is associated have acquired substantial market dominance or mind share such that the primary meaning of the genericized trademark becomes the product or service itself rather than an indication of source for the product or service to such an extent that the public thinks the trademark is the generic name of the product or service. A trademark thus popularized has its legal protection at risk in some countries such as the United States, as unless the owner of an affected trademark works sufficiently to correct and prevent such broad use its intellectual property rights in the trademark may be lost and competitors enabled to use the genericized trademark to describe their similar products.[1][2][3]
Genericization or "loss of secondary meaning" may be either among the general population or among just a subpopulation, for example, people who work in a particular industry. Some examples of the latter type from the vocabulary of physicians include the names Luer-Lok (Luer lock) and Port-a-Cath (portacath), which have genericized mind share (among physicians) because (1) the users may not realize that the term is a brand name rather than a medical eponym or generic-etymology term, and (2) no alternate generic name for the idea readily comes to mind. Most often, genericization occurs because of heavy advertising which fails to provide an alternate generic name or which uses the trademark in similar fashion to generic terms. Thus, when Otis Elevator Company advertised that it offered "the latest in elevator and escalator design" it was using the well known generic term elevator and Otis's trademark "Escalator" for moving staircases in the same way, the Trademark Office and the Courts concluded that if Otis used their trademark in that generic way they could not stop Westinghouse from calling its moving staircases "escalators", and a valuable trademark was lost through "genericization."

While I am not too concerned with the outcome of this, I think Apple got there first, the iPhone popularized the term amongst the general population, and that there are plenty of synonyms for the word "store". Plus, if Microsoft had the name first I believe they would trademark it, too.

I think it should go to Apple, microsoft uses PROGRAMS not APPS, and EVERYONE understands the "App Store" by the Apple App Store, microsoft is always trying to copy apple or just get in it's way. I HATE U MICROSOFT!!!!!!!!!!! DIE, DIE, DIE!

Very mature.. unfortunately you're incorrect, Microsoft windows uses executable applications.. ever since the .exe file extension.
So no, App Store isn't a term that should be coined by one company. Verizon had their own app store called get-it-now before the iPhone even existed.
This is all just a bunch of bullhockey anyways.. to all the people thinking that this is meant to 'harm' Apple in any way, get over yourselves. Do you think that if the US Patent office deamed the term 'app store' too generic, that Apple would have to change the name of their app store to something else? That's rhetorical, the answer is no.

Apple should be able to trademark "App Store." Since they did invent the first real "App Store"

APPS is short for Applications... Apps was used as a short name for Applications long before Apple made the iphone... I dont think mircosoft wants to rename their marketplace, i think this has more to do with using the term App and such in marketing, etc and not having to deal with trademark issues.

i don't think this is an attempt to use the term themselves, but just a way to piss off apple and harm them. why let them copyright it when we can prevent it? they are rival companies and will stop at nothing to harm each other.
i agree that before iphone, i almost never used to word app, but always program. even on my old phones.
if microsoft is trying to call their app store app store, why not app market or something?

I think Microsoft has a point. The term is, at best, descriptive, and bloggers notwithstanding I'm not sure the average consumer associates the words "App Store" with the company Apple.

Let Apple have this one. When it comes down to it, it's not like the other players in this game (namely Microsoft and Google) can't come up with something that's relatively similar and appealing. Google -> App Market. Microsoft -> Software Store. Easy, no? Do they have the ring of "App Store"? No; but Apple changed the game, and to the victor comes the spoils. Kudos to Apple for making the smartphone industry desirable.

Hey, Apple gave up on "podcast" which really is a term they essentially invented. The term "app store" definitely doesn't deserve it's own trademark especially when Jobs himself was using the term a generic phrase. That last part kind of shot their litigators in the foot right there. Steve should be a little more careful with his words next time.

Why can't Microsoft just come up with a new name? I'm sure they have some clever people working over there. When people say app or app store, one automatically thinks of Apple or iPhone because it was the first smartphone to have so many apps available. I hope Apple gets it.

F*ck you Microsoft!
You come up with something original and innovate rather than just playing copycat!
You're just too late...

"App Store" makes people think of Apple. Go ahead and let Microsoft use the term.
Because, as we all know, if you're an Apple competitor and you remind people of Apple in any way, you lose.

To all ofyou saying people automatically think of iphone when referring to the app store, it may be true for tech geeks or those in the know about mobile devices, but for the everday man and woman who has other interests, it just isn't so. Go up to any person with a smartphone that has an application distribution center, and tell them to get a specific app from the "app store." They'll know what you mean.
On the flip side, call it the actual name "Android Market" or such, and some will have no idea what you mean.

Anyone ever been in the actual Microsoft Store? I think there are less than 10 in the country...but they are identical to Apple Stores (except with uglier machines). Point being...MS forgot how to be original a long time ago. This is no different. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery though...

I do agree that "app store" is too generic to have a TM on? But what the hell is MS spending their money on... who cares? come up with another name.. it's not gonna make or break your bank.. and if it is .. your company has serious problems..

LOL, this coming from the company that trademarked the word "Windows" and makes sure that no one can use that name. Why don't they just call it the WinApp Store and call it day.

"A well written share, I just given this onto a student who was doing a little research on that. And he in fact bought me dinner because I found it for him. :) .. So let me reword that: Thnkx for the treat! But yeah Thankx for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and enjoy reading more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more info? It is very helpful for me. Two thumb up for this share!"