Microsoft challenges Apple’s ‘App Store’ trademark in Europe

Microsoft, HTC, Nokia and Sony Ericsson have followed the lead of Amazon in challenging Apple’s right to trademark the terms ‘App Store’ and ‘Appstore’ in Europe.

They’ve filed a formal application for declaration of invalidity with the EU Community Trade Mark Office, which has already issued the trademark.

The companies claim that the terms are generic. They point out that Apple itself has used ‘app store’ as a generic term in its own press releases, as has Steve Jobs when referring to competing stores – bet he regrets that now.

“We believe that they should not have been granted because they both lack distinctiveness,” say the companies. “The undisputed facts establish that ‘app store’ means exactly what it says, a store offering apps, and is generic for the services that the registrations cover.”

They’ve even hired a professor of English and cultural anthropology, Duke University’s Dr Ronald Butters, to support their case.

“The construction {Noun + store}, in which the Noun names some type of goods or services offered for sale, is a productive process in which the results are semantically transparent – that is, in which the meaning of the resultant compound is immediately obvious to the hearer,” he says. “The term does not merely describe the thing named, it is the thing named.”

We hope that’s clear.

In March, Apple sued Amazon for its use of the term ‘Appstore’ for its Android applications store; Amazon promptly countersued, also on the grounds that it was a generic term.