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Apple Loses Bid To Stop Amazon’s Use Of ‘App Store’ Name

July 7, 2011

A US federal judge on Wednesday denied Apple Inc.’s attempt to halt Amazon.com from using the “App Store” name for its online smartphone shop, according to court documents.

Apple, the maker of the popular iPhone and iPad, filed a trademark lawsuit against Amazon.com saying it illegally used Apple’s App Store name to solicit software developers in the US.

Apple asked a judge in Oakland, California for a preliminary injunction to stop Amazon from using the App Store name, which Apple says is trademark protected. Amazon argues that the name is generic and cannot be protected.

US District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton denied Apple’s bid, saying the phrase is not synonymous to a trademark. She ruled that Apple has not established that its “App Store” mark is famous in the sense of being “prominent” and “renowned.”

“The evidence does show that Apple has spent a great deal of money on advertising and publicity, and has sold/provided/furnished a large number of apps from its App Store,” Hamilton wrote.

“However, there is also evidence that the term ‘app store’ is used by other companies as a descriptive term for a place to obtain software applications for mobile devices,” she wrote in her ruling.

In light of Apple’s argument that the name “Amazon Appstore for Android” would cause confusion for consumers, the judge concluded that the phrase was more “descriptive than it is distinctive.”

In an earlier ruling on Wednesday, Hamilton set a trial date for October 2012.

Amazon began offering apps in March and offers free and paid programs for smartphones and tablets running on Android software. The Amazon Appstore for Android can be found at www.amazon.com/appstore.

Apple said it coined the term App Store with its July 2008 launch of the service and has spent “millions of dollars on print, television and Internet advertising” campaigns.

Apple said the US Patent and Trademark Office had approved its application to register App Store as a trademark. The move has been opposed by Microsoft, which also offers mobile apps on devices using Windows Phone software.

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