Amazon Responds to Apple's Lawsuit, Calls 'App Store' a Generic Term

By Beecher Tuttle April 27, 2011

Amazon on Monday asked a California district judge to throw out a recently filed Apple lawsuit that claims the online retailer violated trademark infringement laws by using the term “app store” in one of its new offerings.

Apple sued Amazon in March just days before the retail giant launched its new store for Android-based mobile phone applications, aptly named Amazon Appstore. The lawsuit said that Apple has exclusive rights to the phrase and that Amazon's new offering would “confuse and mislead customers” who rely on the iTunes App Store.

In its rebuttal, Amazon argues that it does not need a license or authorization from Apple because the term “app store” is “generic,” “unprotectable” and “causes no likelihood of confusion, dilution, or unfair competition.”

“Based on their common meaning, the words ‘app store’ together denote a store for apps, such as the app stores operated by Amazon and Apple,” the Seattle-based company said in the filing.

Amazon's then used Apple's longtime CEO Steve Jobs to help in its defense by quoting several situations where he used the term “app store” in a pointedly generic manner. The online retailer recognized an October 2010 statement where Jobs called the iTunes App Store “the easiest-to-use, largest app store in the world.”

If Amazon can prove that Apple views itself as an app store rather than the app store, it may win its legal tussle with the California technology giant.

However, the lawyers for Amazon pushed even further by referencing the American Dialect Society, which recently voted “app” as the word of the year for 2010. They quote the linguists as saying the word “app” “has been around for ages” and “really exploded in the last 12 months” with the “arrival of 'app stores.'“

Microsoft is currently involved in a comparable trademark infringement battle with Apple and has used an eerily similar strategy in the defense of its own soon-to-be-launched applications store.

You can read Amazon's complete response to Apple's lawsuit by clicking here.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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