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Apple demands Amazon executive testimony in battle over 'app store' trademark

BusinessNews
by Stephanie Mlot, 30 Jul 2012News
Apple demands Amazon executive testimony in battle over 'app store' trademark

In the ongoing battle between Apple and Amazon over the "app store" title, Apple is now demanding that Amazon bring forth an executive who will testify about why Amazon dropped the "for Android" tag from its full store name.

As GigaOM first reported, last week's court filings focus on the issue of "consumer confusion," and follows up on former complaints by Apple.

"This motion is made on the grounds that Amazon has refused to produce information directly relevant [to] the claims and defense of the parties," the Apple filing said. "Specifically, that Amazon has refused to produce documents and information relevant to the issue of consumer confusion."

In an effort to prevent rivals like Amazon and Microsoft from using the "app store" moniker, Apple in 2008 filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office to register the mark "App Store." By January 2010, the PTO published a public notice, which provided those who objected to the mark a chance to have their say. Microsoft objected, kicking off a legal battle between the two companies. When Amazon launched its Amazon Android Appstore in March, meanwhile, Apple filed suit, demanding that Amazon stop using the term.

In response, Amazon hit Apple with a countersuit asking the court to dismiss the case and rule in Amazon's favour. Apple also expanded its battle last winter to include Amazon's November-released Kindle Fire tablet. The two sides have been battling it out in court ever since. The most recent filing focuses on the full name of Amazon's app store. When Amazon's Appstore first made its debut, it was known as the Amazon Appstore for Android. According to Amazon, the "for Android" tag gave the impression that products bought in the online app store must be used on Android smartphones, so it started minimising its use about a year ago.

"As such, evidence suggesting that the name of Amazon's Service is actually 'Amazon Appstore,' or at least that Amazon has consciously chosen to cease or minimize the use of 'for Android' with its mark, is highly relevant to Apple's offensive case," Apple said.

In this case, eight factors are relevant to the determination of whether or not confusion is likely, the court said. Since both parties market and deliver services via the Internet, certain factors take precedence over others.

In this case, the similarity of the marks, the relatedness of the services, and the simultaneous use of the Web as a marketing channel are most important to a final decision.

Apple has argued that Amazon's "Appstore" logo is virtually identical to the iTunes mark; only the exclusion of the space between the words sets the two apart.

In a comparison of revenues generated per user across iOS, Amazon, and Android app stores, Flurry found that Amazon Appstore revenue per active user is 89 per cent of that generated by the iTunes App Store. Google Play reached just 23 per cent of Apple's revenue.

In October 2010, Apple trademarked the "There's an app for that" phrase.

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