Online retailing giant Amazon has won a dismissal of Apple’s false advertising claims, the second battle in a broader lawsuit involving the use of the term “app store.” Amazon had sought a partial summary judgment challenging the false advertising claims, which trims Apple’s lawsuit to a single major issue.
Apple sued Amazon in early 2011, claiming that the Amazon Appstore for Android name was too close to that of its own App Store, which provides apps for iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. Apple has also been trying to secure a trademark for the term “app store” despite examples of previous uses of the term.
This week’s ruling by US District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton dismisses a major part of the Apple claim, that Amazon’s use of the term Appstore for Android would “confuse and mislead” customers. It does not address the broader issue surrounding Apple’s attempts to trademark the term "app store."
This is the second setback for Apple in its claims against the Amazon Appstore. In July 2011, Judge Hamilton denied Apple a preliminary injunction against Amazon, noting the generic nature of the "app store" term and that Amazon’s store was pretty clearly for Android devices, not Apple devices. "Apple has not established a likelihood of success," she wrote in that ruling. “The term 'app store' is used by other companies as a descriptive term for a place to obtain software applications for mobile devices.”
While the law and common sense don’t always intersect, in this case they have so far. Hopefully that trend will continue. Apple should not be awarded a trademark for the term “app store,” because it is generic and was used before Apple adopted it for its own mobile apps store. And its frivolous lawsuit against Amazon should be tossed out.