Judge Denies Apple’s Request, Amazon Can Continue to Use ‘Appstore’ for Now

Posted by at 12:37 am on July 7, 2011

A U.S. District Court judge has denied Apple’s preliminary injunction against Amazon to immediately stop them using the “App Store” name in the short term, setting a trial date in October of next year to settle the issue. Apple had sought to quickly prevent Amazon from using the “App Store” name until the trademark dispute is settled, but will now be able to continue using the term for the next 16 months — a move that will undoubtedly undermine Apple’s claims.

Apple’s argument is that the term “App Store” is both trademarked and will cause customers to be “confused and mislead” about the nature, connection to Apple and quality of other establishments that also use the name. Amazon’s counter-argument has been that “App Store” is such a generic term that it cannot be trademarked, an argument that the judge also disagreed with. While not agreeing that the term is “purely” generic, Judge Phyllis Hamilton also said that Apple had not clearly established “a likelihood of confusion” in its examples so far.

Judge Hamilton had previously cast doubt that Apple would be able to eventually triumph over Amazon on the matter. Apple had initially asked Amazon multiple times to refrain from using the term, fearing consumer confusion, but filed a trademark lawsuit in March after Amazon “improperly” used the App Store name — which Amazon spells as “Appstore” — to solicit software developers. Amazon had asked for a dismissal of the lawsuit, which was also denied.

Amazon has recently begun offering downloadable versions of Mac software, though it has been careful not to use the “Appstore” name in association with those products. The Amazon “Appstore” is currently only for Android software, which could be argued as bolstering Apple’s case.

Other companies, including Google itself, have come up with other names for their own app storefronts, including Blackberry’s App World, the Android Market and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.

The trial is set for October 2012 in the Northern District of California.

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