What do you call a mobile market? Whether Android or Amazon, the phrase most call on seems to be "app store" -- but the App Store belongs to Apple, arguably the biggest driver of the term into common parlance. Does Apple own the phrase?
It wants to, at least. It's seeking a trademark for the term "App Store" with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, and rival Microsoft doesn't want to see it win one. Microsoft wants to use the words for its own mobile market, and is hoping the USPTO denies Apple's claim.
"Any secondary meaning or fame Apple has in 'App Store' is de facto secondary meaning that cannot convert the generic term 'app store' into a protectable trademark," Microsoft lawyers write in a new motion, as reported by TechFlash.
The company wants to argue that the phrase "app store" is a generic, public-domain term Apple can't block its competitors from using. As evidence, it cites the fact that many websites that cover the mobile biz use the phrase "app store" freely to refer to any platform's app market. According to Microsoft, even Apple CEO Steve Jobs said "app store" in an interview to refer to Android's markets.
Apple currently forces Microsoft and others among its rivals to use words like "marketplace" (for Microsoft's Windows Phone store) in literature and communications about their products until the issue is sorted legally.
For Apple's part, it claims that "the vastly predominant usage of the expression 'app store' in trade press is as a reference to Apple’s extraordinarily well-known App Store mark and the services rendered by Apple thereunder."
The company says companies adopting the phrase "app store" are trying to "trade on the goodwill" it's built up.