App Store Judge Tells Apple and Amazon to Get a Conference Room
Before Apple and Amazon take their spat over the “app store” trademark into the courtroom, they must first attempt to resolve it in a conference room.
Though the two companies have a trial date scheduled for Aug. 19, 2013, U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte on Monday ordered them into settlement talks to resolve their differences over the term. The discussion is to be held on March 21 and attended by executives with full authority to negotiate and to settle the case. And make no mistake, they must attempt to settle it. “No participant in the settlement conference will be permitted to leave the settlement conference before it is concluded,” Laporte wrote in her order.
Not that such mandates are any guarantee of a resolution. Apple and Amazon have been going round and round over the app store mark for nearly two years now. Apple contends that Amazon has improperly used its App Store mark to promote its Amazon Appstore.
“Consumers of mobile software downloads are likely to be confused as to whether Amazon’s mobile software download service is sponsored or approved by Apple,” Apple alleged when it sued Amazon in March of 2011.
Meanwhile, Amazon insists that the term “app store” is generic, and that it’s silly for Apple to claim otherwise, when its own executives use it generically. “Apple presumably does not contend that its past and current CEOs made false statements regarding those other app stores to thousands of investors in earnings calls,” Amazon said. “To the contrary, the use of the term ‘app store’ to refer to stores selling apps is commonplace in the industry.”
Earlier this month, a district court granted Amazon’s motion for summary judgment on Apple’s allegation that the retailer is guilty of false advertising for improperly using its App Store mark. That was a victory for Amazon, but a partial one. Apple has five more claims pending against the retailer, including trademark infringement and unfair competition — the issues Laporte is hoping to force the companies to resolve at this settlement conference.