Microsoft and Apple Still Fighting Over ‘App Store’ Trademark

Microsoft has pointed the finger and claimed that it’s unfair for Apple to trademark the phrase “App Store.” Microsoft claims that the term is too generic, and that other companies should be able to use the phrase for their own mobile marketplaces.

Apple has had enough of Microsoft’s wining, and has retaliated by calling out the generic nature of the term “Windows.” Bet you didn’t see that coming, Microsoft.

TechFlash reports,

“It’s the latest broadside in a battle over rights to one of the most commonly used phrases of the booming mobile world. Apple’s filing, submitted Monday night, asks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reject Microsoft’s attempt to dismiss Apple’s “App Store” trademark application.”

Microsoft clearly wants to rain on Apple’s parade. Apple originally filed for the trademark on “App Store” to secure what they believe is their intellectual property. The App Store was created, named, and sensationalized by Apple. Does anyone remember any type of accesible mobile application storefront before the App Store? That’s because there wasn’t one.

So, why shouldn’t Apple be able to trademark the App Store? Microsoft believes that the term is too “generic” and that it should be, “in the public domain and free for all competitors to use.”

In a poignant and witty jab at its longtime rival, Apple responded to Microsoft’s complaint by calling out the obviously nonspecific nature of Microsoft’s staple term: Windows.

“Having itself faced a decades-long genericness challenge to its claimed WINDOWS mark, Microsoft should be well aware that the focus in evaluating genericness is on the mark as a whole and requires a fact-intensive assessment of the primary significance of the term to a substantial majority of the relevant public,” says Apple in the filing. “Yet, Microsoft, missing the forest for the trees, does not base its motion on a comprehensive evaluation of how the relevant public understands the term APP STORE as a whole.”

It’s ironic that Microsoft is complaining about the genericness of Apple’s “App Store” when this is a company that has the terms Marketplace, Office, and Windows trademarked.

Hopefully Microsoft will learn that it’s not cool to be a killjoy. It looks to be an uphill battle against Apple in this trademark debate.

Some could argue that Microsoft does have a point in all this. Do you get to trademark a broad term by simply being the first one to do so? Microsoft did manage to obtain their trademarks on several generic (although arguably metaphorical) terms. Trademarking the “App Store” could be seen as the equivalent of trademarking the term “hardware store.”

What do you think?

(You can read a more in-depth discussion of this issue on CrunchGear.)