In responding to a lawsuit filed by Apple last month
, Amazon contends that it is free to use the term Appstore for its recently launched digital Android marketplace
because the term is generic and legally unprotectable.
"No... license or authorization is required [from Apple] because 'app store' is a generic term, and Amazon's use of the term causes no likelihood of confusion, dilution, or unfair competition," reads the response, as obtained by the L.A. Times
In making this case, Amazon goes so far as to quote Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, who last October said Apple's digital marketplace is "the easiest-to-use, largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone."
Amazon also points out that the common dictionary meanings of "app" and "store" make the term generally applicable to any number of digital download services, and that the American Dialect Society noted "the arrival of 'app stores' for a wide spectrum of operating systems for phones and computers," in naming "app" its 2010 word of the year
In U.S. trademark law, a trademark can become genericized
, and sometimes unprotectable, if it become synonymous with a larger class of products through overuse. But a company can be liable for trademark infringement if it uses a term that is "confusingly similar"
to an existing, competing trademark.
Earlier this year, Microsoft also disputed Apple's rights to the "app store" trademark
, using arguments similar to Amazon's.