Apple’s trademark battle with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) over the phrase “app store” seemed like a somewhat humorous sideshow, especially after the most recent round of that fight, where the two companies squabbled over the font size of their briefs. But Apple’s dead serious about stopping people from using the phrase “app store,” which it sees as its trademark-not a common descriptor that’s just shorthand for a place to buy software. Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) sued Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) today, trying to put a stop to advertisements like this one, which boasts about a new Angry Birds game (pictured at left) that will be exclusively available through Amazon’s app store.
This looks like the first real lawsuit over the phrase “App Store,” as Apple’s battle with Microsoft is being decided by a special board in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In that case, Microsoft is arguing that merely combining the word “store” with the word “app”-which is nothing more than a short term for “application,” a term that can describe any software program-shouldn’t qualify for a trademark.
In this suit, Apple says Amazon started using the “App Store mark” around the beginning of this year. Looking at a website advertising the game in question, it looks like Amazon actually writes the name of their store “Amazon appstore.” An Apple spokeswoman said that Amazon is copying their mark, and that “it will confuse and mislead customers.” Amazon didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment.