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APP STORE – Trade Mark Challenge Spreads to EU

May 17, 2011

We have been keeping an eye on developments in the dispute over the APP STORE mark.  A new chapter in this interesting saga has begun.

The challenge against Apple is bringing in more supporters and expanding to other jurisdictions. To recap, in our first blog we explained how Microsoft applied to the US Patent and Trade mark Office to oppose Apple’s trade mark for APP STORE on the grounds that it is a generic term.  In our second post we explored that Apple was on the offensive against Amazon for using the term APPSTORE for their software download store (to date Amazon have already filed their defence).

These actions both are taking place in the US.

Now the challenge to APP STORE has extended to Europe, where Apple has CTMs registered for APP STORE and APPSTORE since 2009.

As part of Amazon’s overall strategic defence to the lawsuit filed by Apple, they applied on 15 April to cancel Apple’s CTM trade mark registrations.

Microsoft have now followed suit by filing a declaration of invalidity of these EU marks.

What is interesting here is that Microsoft has pursued this challenge with the support of 3 other phone manufacturers: HTC, Sony Ecrisson and Nokia.

After issuing an invalidity application Microsoft released the following statement saying they were “seeking to invalidate Apple’s trademark registration for APP STORE and APPSTORE because [they] believe that [the trade marks] should not have been granted because they both lack distinctiveness. 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.”

This is not going to be the last we will hear in this ongoing dispute. The interest in this trade mark is growing and one wonders who else is going to join the bandwagon? Also, there is sufficient interest in the outcome of the EU trade mark proceedings, to see any decision made by OHIM being appealed up the steps to the Court of Justice of the European Union.