Apple, Amazon Told to Settle App Store Trademark Dispute

17 January 2013, 4:46 pm EST By Khurram Aziz email: k.aziz@mobilenapps.com Mobile & Apps

A judge in a U.S. District Court in California has told Apple and Amazon to meet to try to work out an agreement on who owns the "app store" name before the trademark case goes to court.

Judge Elizabeth Laporte ordered the two companies to meet in Mach, five months before the scheduled Aug. 19 trial, in a "good faith effort" to resolve the case.

"No participant in the settlement conference will be permitted to leave the settlement conference before it is concluded," the order read.

Apple applied to register a trademark for both "App Store" and "Appstore" with the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2008. In April 2011 the Cupertino company filed a trademark suit against Amazon for trademark infringement after the internet retailer launched its Appstore for Android. The store is designed specifically to distribute apps for Amazon's Android-based Kindle devices. Apple later amended its claim, adding false advertising to the mix, but that was rejected by the Californians court at the beginning of the month.

Amazon argues that the term "App Store" is too generic and descriptive to be able to be trademarked. Apple already owns a trademark on "App Store" and "Appstore" in Europe, but even there it is being challenged by HTC, Nokia, Microsoft and Sony.

Laporte has ordered each company to hand her a confidential settlement conference statement by March 11 which spells out claims and defenses, a summary of the case, costs incurred and details on what each party is seeking.

"[The statement should also include] the party's position on settlement, including present demands and offers and a history of past settlement discussions," said the order.

Microsoft is also opposing Apple's "App Store" trademark application in the U.S. In 2012, both tech giants hired linguists to serve as experts in their appeal, with Microsoft claiming the words "App Store" were a generic compound noun, simply describing a "store at which apps are offered for sale," while Apple's linguist countered that the term "App Store" was a proper noun and deserved to be trademarked, even though the words are generic when separated.

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