Why losing the 'App Store' trademark could be dangerous for Apple

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by EssentialParado, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. EssentialParado macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2005
    In regard to Microsoft's current aggressive approach in attempting to take the 'App Store' trademark away from Apple, I've noticed a few Apple fans commenting on the issue as it being unimportant and not seemingly appreciating the reasons why Microsoft are putting such focus, and resources toward being so aggressive about this. (The latest article on the MR front page, which reports of a new attack by Microsoft, seems to have many more positive votes by readers than it has negative votes.)

    So I'm going to air a point for why I believe it could turn out dangerous if Apple loses that trademark. It's possible I'm reading into this too much, and I could very well be wrong, so please put forward any counter-arguments to this if you see any flawed reasoning.

    Currently, what is the biggest selling point for Apple's iOS devices? Ease of use coupled with an intuitive UI is a big one, but competitors are catching up and Apple can't remain dramatically distinctive in this area forever. Design is also a great selling point, but it's not why we buy Apple products, is it? Same with specs—you can create a phone or a tablet that exceeds the iPhone or iPad technically, but that doesn't make a lick of difference for the success or failure of a product. No, there is still one major asset and advantage Apple have over the competition; A major reason people buy an iPhone over a any other phone, and the primary reason why customers are buying iPads: the range, sheer amount, and quality of software available for these devices, known and marketed as: the App Store.

    Both Apple and Microsoft recognize that consumers know that the App Store only exists on Apple products. Customers realize that competing products have their own "Samsung stores", "App worlds" and "Google marketplaces", etc., and most will also understand the inferiority to Apple's 'App Store', and rightly so; we know Apple's range of apps is far better than the competition.

    However, if Microsoft succeed in having 'App Store' judged a generic term, this would leave Microsoft, Android, HP, Blackberry, and all other competitors free to all have, and market, an app and market named 'App Store' — and how exactly would that look to the average consumer comparing phones or tablets?

    This is not an argument for whether or not 'App Store' is a trademark-able phrase, because I don't know. Rather, this is me trying to show why Microsoft are seemingly being so aggressive in targeting this, and why Apple fans should not dismiss it as an irrelevant story so quickly.
  2. buddda macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2011
    You raise an interesting perspective. I'm so utterly disinterested In the other "app stores" simply because they are all synonymous with cheap chinese knock-offs to me. When I hear app store, the first thing I think of is apple. It's apparent that new smartphone customers will have the Apple be the first to come to mind as well.
  3. admanimal macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2005
    I'm pretty sure that allowing other companies to use "App Store" will help the other companies much more than it hurts Apple. App Store is already the Kleenex of application marketplace names. People will refer to other companies' app stores as <Insert Company Name>'s App Store regardless of what their actual names are. However, Apple's App Store has a sufficient head start on the competition that people will also recognize it as the original/best.
  4. EssentialParado thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2005
    You feel 'App Store' has become like 'Kleenex' or 'Xerox' already? I haven't personally experienced that.
  5. Mattstkc macrumors 6502a


    Dec 8, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    Blackberry App World
    Android Marketplace
    "App Marketplace" or just "Marketplace" for WP7

    They've already branded their Application Stores. Just because Apple got there first and got to name theirs "App Store" doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to TM it. That's like saying they can't TM iMovie or iPod or iPhone or any of their iNames because it just puts 1 letter infront of a generic term.

    EDIT: Oh, and every band that's ever played in a garage should sue Apple too!
  6. Piggie macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    I know everyone will disagree with me :)

    But I just can't think of Games as Apps or Applications.

    It's probably just me, but for literally years and years, I always used to sort programs into a neat file structure, in the past, when file sizes were not what they are today, burning them onto CD for storage.

    I used to have an Applications folder where all the Utilities went it, you know, word processors, defrag tools, CD burning apps, all those type of things.

    Then I also had a Games folder where all the games were put.

    Until I got an iOS product, I never did, and still do, have trouble thinking of a game as an application. To me an application is a program that does some type of task as explained above.

    Games, which are just entertainment just don't feel like applications to me.

    I know I'm probably alone in thinking this way.
  7. eaweber1 macrumors newbie


    Feb 1, 2011
    iPod is not a generic term. iPod is a type of MP3 player...which is a generic term.
  8. Mattstkc macrumors 6502a


    Dec 8, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    You're not totally alone! I completely understand having grown up with computers and that file structure. Folders for me on iOS was the best thing to ever happen because Messy desktops don't make sense and messy homescreens don't either.
  9. bella92108 macrumors 68000

    Mar 1, 2006
    If Apple can trademark "App Store" then Motorola should rebrand all future cables as a "dock connector" lol, or an iProduct... can't prevent Motorola iAtrix or Blackberry iPlaybook

    Application Store, aka App Store, should be open to anyone who wants to use it.
  10. G4er? macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2009
    Temple, TX
    App Store
    App Shack
    App Zone
    App Hut
    App Warehouse
    App Supermart
    App Home Center

    It's enough to drive someone Ape!
  11. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    I have. Newcomers to non-Apple phones often come up on forums (or in person) and ask about the "app store" for their phone. They don't ask for the "iTunes App Store", which would imply Apple. They use the generic "app store".

    As for those who say they never heard the term "app" used, I'm that sure you haven't heard a lot of terms, unless you own or otherwise have an interest in something.

    It's like knowing all the little terms used in skiing or flying or skateboarding or heart surgery or cars or whatever... you might not know them, but millions do.

    And millions used "app" before you ever heard it from Apple. (As pointed out elsewhere, most know of the related term "killer app", which dates from decades ago.)
  12. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think apple is in the wrong, its much to much of a generic term. Every device has an "app store" and to give apple the trademark is incorrect.

    While hypercritical of MS to object (remember they tried to trademark the word windows), they're correct and I hope apple does lose this.
  13. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Apple can have the App Store
    Google can have the Open Wasteland CrApp Store
    Microsoft can have the Program Market Place Live for Windows 7 Phone

    It's not a generic term. Just try to find some domains containing 'app store'. There were NONE until Apple popularized the name.
  14. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    I'm not sure who's side to take on this, but I do agree that it will damage Apple if they loose exclusivity to the term 'App Store', as many people associate the word to Apple's iOS devices.

    I mean, Microsoft have the terms Windows, Office, Word...etc, but they never try and prevent other companies from using the terms either. OpenOffice never got sued by M$ for using the term Office, and neither have any other products that share similar names to what Microsoft use in their products.

    Do Microsoft really think by having the use of the term 'App Store' will help them? Obviously so.
  15. iStudentUK macrumors 65816


    Mar 8, 2009
    It matters whether it is generic now. It doesn't matter if Apple introduced the term.

    This is a problem for many companies. If your product becomes very popular you risk its name becoming synonymous with the product, and hence generic. For example, aspirin, yo-yo and petrol all used to be trademarked, but became generic and so cannot be trademarks anymore.
  16. gnasher729, Mar 31, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2011

    gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    How can it be generic? Apple registered the trademark, and right now they are taking Amazon to court (I think it is Amazon) for trademark infringement. They'll probably send C&Ds to any journalist using the word. That's what you do to keep it from becoming generic.

    Aspirin didn't lose its trademark because the name became generic. (See Wikipedia article). The trademark is still valid and in 80 countries.

    But what nobody has noticed yet apparently: Start iTunes, select the Store, then switch to the German or French store. Guess what term is used for the App Store: The German store uses the word "App Store", French store uses "App Store", Japanese store uses "App Store", Spanish store uses "App Store". And I can assure you that "App Store" is not a German, French, Japanese or Spanish word.
  17. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    and to me I read that and the entire argument falls apart at this.
    What so bad at people saying Apple App Store.
    Hell that is what I already see many people viewing it as any ways. Apple locks you in to the Apple App Store.
  18. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Erm, I'm pretty sure that Microsoft is arguing the exact opposite, that consumers DON"T know that, because App store is generic.
  19. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    The problem with App Store is that it is descriptive. Like Grocery Store, Shoe Store, Clothing Store. This is very unlike Kleenex and Xerox, the case is very different.

    What was wrong with iTunes App Store anyhow ? That's how it was called initially.
  20. iStudentUK macrumors 65816


    Mar 8, 2009
    Apple trademarking it is not decisive, which I know sounds strange. If the public think App Store is a generic term that is what matters. Apple can try and prevent that from happening by suing Amazon, but they can't stop the man on the street using the "App Store" as a common word. Although Apple were a bit late, they applied for the trademark a few weeks after the store was announced.

    Netbook was trademarked in the late 90s. The company behind them tried to sue larger computer manufacturers in the late 2000s. The matter was settled out of court (probably because that was cheaper!). Netbook had become a generic term and the company behind it withdrew their rights.

    Thermos was declared generic in the US in 1963.

    Take the example of Hoover, I don't know about the US but here it is practically a synonym for vacuum just through public perception. Hoover has managed to keep its trademark, but as wikipedia says it has de facto loss in the UK.

    Ok, but it is not protected in Australia, France, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Jamaica, the Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. There are plenty of more clear cut examples.

    Again, it does not matter. It is about public perception. Google was not a word in English (interestingly, the creators of Google misspelled googol, which is the name of a number followed by 100 zeros) but it is now being used as a verb, and I bet it is used that way in some of the countries you list as well. If Google are not careful their trademark may eventually become a generic term for search.

    Microsoft, and anyone else, need to show that the public are using app store willy-nilly. If they can that may be enough to make app store an unprotected term.

    There is also another argument, which is that app store is descriptive.
  21. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    But its generic, and no matter how much the apple fanboys try to justify that it isn't, you cannot change the fact that when you say app store you can mean android, amazon's android app store, RIM's Palm's Window's, etc.
  22. EssentialParado thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2005
    There is no such thing as a "de facto loss" of a trademark. A competing manufacturer in Britain cannot use the term 'Hoover' in product naming or any of their marketing materials.

Share This Page