App Store vs Appstore legal battle not going well for Apple, Cupertino still not ready to drop charges

by: AdrianNovember 1, 2012

We know Apple’s legal team is no stranger to the pursuit of even the silliest sounding copyright infringement accusations, but the Cupertino lawyers and officials look set to breaking their own records in terms of frivolous claims.

The iPhone makers sued Amazon in March 2011 for the latter’s use of the term “app store”, which Apple claims to be a trademarked phrase. As expected, Amazon defended by saying that the term is generic and can’t be trademarked, and, as logical as that explanation sounded, the US lawsuit is yet to be settled.

However, a ruling seems imminent, and after an Oakland federal court hearing today, the decision looks like it could only go one way – in Amazon’s favor. US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who already declared herself unimpressed by Apple’s arguments a year ago, also denying a preliminary injunction at that time, shattered Cupertino’s hopes by pretty much trashing the case.

“Everyone who uses a smartphone knows the difference between the Apple iOS system and the Android system.” said Judge Hamilton, adding that “There’s some suggestion that if Amazon is using the ‘Appstore’ term someone might think they have as many apps as Apple does. Well, why? And how, in fact, does that contribute to any deception on the part of Amazon?”

This was in response to Apple’s claims that Amazon is not only illegally using a trademarked phrase, but also promoting the Appstore by ways of false advertising, affecting the image of the Cupertino-based tech giant. However, Judge Hamilton’s skepticism will certainly hurt Apple’s chances of winning either of the two separate cases – the trademark infringement and the false advertising.

Apple’s “evidence” backing the accusations can’t do much to change Judge Hamilton’s stance, being at the best circumstantial (not to say downright childish). David Eberhart, a lawyer for Tim Cook’s company, showed the court a page from Amazon’s store offering various smartphones.

The Android devices were said to have software available through the Amazon Appstore, while the iPhones, you guessed it, were listed as products compatible with Apple’s App Store. So, what’s wrong with that picture?

Well, according to Eberhart, “When a consumer sees something like this they will be deceived into thinking the Amazon store has the same types of qualities. The consumers understand what the App Store by Apple entails – hundreds of thousands of apps, and an ease of service unmatched by any others.”

Ridiculous, right? Fortunately, Judge Hamilton seems to agree, being blatant about not “seeing” what Apple wanted her to see. “I don’t look at this and make that determination. I just don’t understand the whole idea that people would misunderstand and blend these two different products and services.” said Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Apple is determined to go forward with the accusations, claiming that “A pioneering brand – the first successful brand in a new market – plays a unique role in educating consumers about the product category as a whole while simultaneously building consumer affiliation between the product and the pioneer.” Okay, but what does that have to do with anything? And what’s next, guys, trying to forbid grocery stores from selling fruit?

Do you also think Apple is being ridiculous with these claims? Or do they really have a case? And if they do, what words might they look to trademark next – apple, air, phone, pad, jobs…?

  • DroidMe

    When I thinking of an Apple, its a rotten fruit and want to throw it out to the crows. Does it mean I damage the rotten Apple company trademark then?

  • mike

    Is not going to be long before apple sues apple growers for copyright infringement

    • Lorne Serpa

      When is Apple going to sue God and Adam for infringement?

      • And why would they do that? That’s doesn’t make any sense.

  • Qliphah

    I would like to give the judge one piece of advice. Apple is in fact the one confusing their customers. If they were forced to call theirs the ‘APPle Store’, as it should be, it would be far less confusing to everyone.

    • Vyrlokar

      They could call it the Apple App Store. No one would deny them the trademark then

  • ZalAamir

    “And what’s next, guys, trying to forbid grocery stores from selling fruit?”

    maybe not, but

    absolutely ridiculous.

    • hohopig

      And this is just ONE of the ridiculous cases – how about the cafe that was sued as well? And the NYC Green Campaign … for using an apple logo that does not look like the iFruity logo?

  • trm96

    Ever since Jobs died Apple has been on a path to destruction…

    Tune in at 11 to find out who Apple is going to sue next

    • hohopig

      er… it happened when he was still alive

  • Qliphah

    And one other thing,

    “A pioneering brand – the first successful brand in a new market – plays
    a unique role in educating consumers about the product category as a
    whole while simultaneously building consumer affiliation between the
    product and the pioneer.”

    That statement should be used to throw every Apple lawsuit currently or ever conceived out the window. They themselves admit to being the “pioneer” device. Therefor all the copying, all the similar looking phones, the very idea of the smartphone is now public domain. Any pioneering technology is legally bound to allow competition in to the marketplace. To allow similar or in some circumstances identical features is just a curse Apple will have to live with.

  • Quryous


    I started teaching a course in “Microcomputer Apps” in my local state university back in 1988. ALL of which were on DOS and then Windows based PCs, not on anything APPLE. THOUSANDS of my students were using the word “APPS” before Apple. Seems to me that Apple expropriated that term from me and everyone who used the term a decade before there was any such thing as an iPhony.

    • Justin Stoker

      You should sue Apple for trademark infringement!

    • carlisimo

      Nonetheless, by the ’90s only Mac users were using the word “application” regularly. In DOS or Windows, they were “programs”, or less commonly “executables”. PC users didn’t start saying “apps” again until the smartphone era, specifically because of the iPhone.

      • hohopig

        and …. so? Btw it is not true that it was never used, but just that it became a more specific jargon. In fact, some of those I know who use apple product also uses the word program …

        The thing is, these words are interchangeable and is so common that it cannot and should not be trademarked.

        • On a Clear Day

          A rose is a rose by any other name. Apple has more money than brains these days and is acting like a capricious diva.

          Let’s hope the judge slaps them in the face, as they soooooooooooooo richly deserve to be slapped. Isn’t there some statute about filing friviolous lawsuits designed to harrass and make competitors feel threatened by bullies with endlessly deep pockets?

      • Quryous


        Not so. The course continues and is still listed by the university as “Introduction to Microcomputer Apps”. We have never changed because that was the common expression across the country in every university that I know of, and we correspond with a LOT of them, using microcomputer apps, by the way. Sorry!


      • Marvin Nakajima

        I would have thought people were using the term apps to mean executables on feature phones before the term was used in smartphones.

  • jay

    soon apple will sue themselves.

    • Evan Wickes

      hahaha. its only a matter of time.

  • sayem alvee

    one of these days, Apple lawyers going to sue the “Church” for for the wedding vow
    ” i Do ” as it sounds very close to all the pioneering and successful ‘i’ products that the company sells and on the point that the term ” i Do ” might confuse the Attendees/Guests about a new Apple product they have not bought yet and thus causing harm to the Company.

  • Kindroid

    Dismiss the suit. Waste of court’s time. Apple is evil. Pursuing these frivolous suits is anti-competitive and the courts need to shut them down. To see just how evil Apple is…take a look at the court case in Great Britian…where they defied a court order to apologize for claiming Samsung copied the iPad. One terse paragraph saying Samsung didn’t copy. Then four paragraph explaining how wrong the court was. Evil. This is why Google decided to start Android. They knew what would happen if Apple was left in the mobile field on its own.

    • MasterMuffin


  • AppMan

    Amazon should call it “The Application Store for Intelligent Cellular Telephones.” Though maybe Apple would still be bothered by that.

  • McPear

    Apple.How low can you go?

  • hoggleboggle

    well by Apple’s logic they can’t use the term smart phone, since Nokia coined it first and essentially pioneered the market. When Apple talk about smart phones people may be mislead by thinking they were buying a superior nokia product.
    Complete and utter nonsense, but then so is apple’s lawsuit.

  • dro_ID

    I expect Apple to sue all farmers in the world because they sell apples… It is funny, but Apple sued the Polish grocery store, because they said “” sounds similar with “apple”, and this might confuse customers.

    Well, their customers must be very smart if they may confuse a grocery store with Apple.

    Check here:

  • Apple is never gonna stop acting like 5 year old kid that think that it can do anything.

  • Hrmmph

    Microsoft should rename their store to “Windows Shopping”

  • Cottonswab

    We needed Hamilton in the Samsung vs. Apple Case… A REAL Judge.

  • RaptorOO7

    And yet Steve Jobs himself during one of his long winded Keynotes clearly referred to other “App Stores” meaning WP, Android, BlackBerry, App Stores so clearly he knew there was competition and that it was a common phrase.

    Seems with the king long deceased the kingdom is running amok.