Microsoft Goes Linguistic on Apple in Trademark Case

Try as they might, Apple will not have an easy time securing the trademark for "App Store." The people at Microsoft simply won't let that happen. And to better ensure that it doesn't, they've hired a linguistic expert to help illustrate why Apple is wrongfully laying claim to a phrase that should continue to exist as generic fair game for all.

In yet another complaint filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Microsoft has brought in linguistic expert Ronald R. Butters to counter the pro-Apple assertions made by Apple's linguistic expert Robert A. Leonard. According to Microsoft's wordsmith: "the compound noun 'app store' means simply 'store at which apps are offered for sale,' which is merely a definition of the thing itself--a generic characterization."

"The undisputed facts establish that 'app store' means exactly what it says, a store offering apps, and is generic for the retail store services for which Apple seeks registration," Microsoft claims. "Apple does not contest that its other services are ancillary and incidental to its retail store services. Summary judgment should be entered denying Apple's application in its entirety."

Butters also blasted Apple for using "online dictionaries" that were meant to lend credence to Apple's unique affiliation with and connection to the "App Store" designation. Butters alleges that "the online 'dictionary' sources Leonard cites were not written by established lexicographers and are without scientific authority. Even so, he included an online source that does, in fact, define app store as a generic term."

It isn't clear what will ultimately come of Apple's efforts to trademark "App Store." But what is unmistakably apparent is that Apple isn't going to limit its fight to Microsoft. Last week, Apple filed a lawsuit against Amazon for referring to its new mobile software distribution marketplace as an "Appstore."

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