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Microsoft-Apple Word War Spreads to Europe

Published on May 12, 2011
by John Paczkowski

Microsoft has established a new beachhead in its semantic set-to with Apple and rallied some new allies to its fight against genericide. On Thursday it challenged Apple’s rights to the trademarks “App Store” and “Appstore” in the European market, filing a formal application for declaration of invalidity in the EU’s Community Trade Mark office. That joins similar paperwork from HTC, Nokia and Sony Ericsson, all of whom argue that “app store” is too generic a term for anyone to trademark.

“Microsoft and other leading technology companies are seeking to invalidate Apple’s trademark registration for APP STORE and APPSTORE because we believe that they should not have been granted because they both lack distinctiveness,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement. “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, of course, the same argument Microsoft (and Amazon, for that matter) have been making in the States. That said, as I’ve noted here before, Apple was first to request a trademark on App Store and, as this Google Trend line shows, the phrase didn’t enter the vernacular until 2008, right around the time Apple began popularizing it.

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