Apple has been in a tussle over registering the term “app store” as its trademark, but it seems like no one is buying the iPhone maker’s argument
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s request to trademark the term “app store” has been denied by Australia’s federal court. Last year in March, the Registrar of Trade Marks turned down Apple’s request, saying it was too descriptive. The iPhone maker appealed this decision in federal court.
“App store” not exclusive to Apple
Justice Yates stated that Apple Inc.’s appeal is denied, and also the company will pay the court costs of the Registrar of Trade Marks. The iPhone maker will be able to use the term “app store,” but it cannot restrict others from using it in Australia. Even Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) was against Apple’s attempt to own the trademark.
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Justice David Yates said, “Apple has not established that, because of the extent to which it has used the [trade] mark before the filing date, it does distinguish the designated services as being Apple’s services.”
The ruling stated that the term “app store” cannot be said as a service exclusively offered by Apple, and hence, the application is rejected. Apple is also seeking a trademark on the term in other countries. According to Mark Summerfield, a senior associate with Melbourne intellectual property law firm Watermark, Apple will have shed between $100,000 and $200,000 over the appeal.
Apple holds right for “appstore”
According to Mr Summerfield, the Judge’s decision assumed that by the word “app store,” consumers understood it as a trade channel or a store by or through which application software could be acquired. However, Apple has already received the trademark for the term “appstore” (without a space) in Australia.
Summerfield said trademark law is made to differentiate the goods or services of one trader from those of another to avoid any confusion for consumers when they are making a purchase. Summerfield said this is the reason why trademarks that define a product or service and can be used legitimately by various companies cannot be reserved by any one company by registration.
Back in 2011 in the U.S., Apple dragged Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) into court over the use of the term “app store,” as the latter also uses the term to sell its services. However, Apple dropped the lawsuit in July 2013. At that time, the company gave the reason that with over 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads, customers know where they should look to download an app.