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Microsoft Claim App Store Is Generic Term

David Gilbert


Microsoft Claim App Store Is Generic Term

When you think of the term "App Store", what do you think of? Are you immediately put in mind of Apple’s repository of apps available for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and now even on its laptops and desktops? Well one group who don’t immediately link the two is the people over at Microsoft.

Steve Ballmer et al have this week filed a motion to the US Patent and Trademark Office to have Apple’s application for a patent on the term App Store to be dismissed. Microsoft claim that the term app store, as well as the individual words, is generic and is more descriptive than anything else. “Microsoft opposes Apple’s Application Serial No. 77/525433 for APP STORE on the grounds that “app store” is generic for retail store services featuring apps and unregistrable for ancillary services such as searching for and downloading apps from such stores.” So goes the motion filed by Microsoft, which is looking for the application to be dismissed immediately.

In its motion, Microsoft use Steve Jobs own words against him, quoting his diatribe on the fragmentation of Android last October where he spoke about multiple app stores within Android. Apple applied for the patent on App Store as far back as July 2008 and opposition to the claim was flagged over six months ago, though it seems as if Microsoft has now escalated matters with its request for a summary dismissal of the claim.

Via Engadget

Pendejo Sin Nombre

January 12, 2011, 4:13 pm

I thought MS were all about programs. Applications and apps are, or were historically, very Apple-centric terminology.

That Steve Jobs uses the term app to describe what others might call a program is neither here nor there. The head of Apple using a term popularised at Apple - shocking.

That people who may have in the past used the program/s are now using app/s is of course the point - especially as people's exposure to the term is mainly via the new frontier of mobile devices.


January 12, 2011, 5:08 pm

@Pendejo Sin Nombre - How historically are you talking? I was using Microsoft's "App Studio" in Visual C++ nearly 20 years ago, which lends some credence to the argument that App XXX is fairly generic.

Hamish Campbell

January 12, 2011, 5:25 pm

Seems pretty generic to me too. So 'app' was used 20 years ago at least, and it's a store for it.

Otherwise I might go out and patent 'Hardware Store' and start suing myself to riches.


January 12, 2011, 5:26 pm

I think MS are right, it would be like B&Q trying to trademark 'Hardware Store'. I think the only argument Apple could use that App isn't a word, ie they could trademark 'App Store', but would have no argument against an 'Application Store', even if everyone shortend the first word.

Pendejo Sin Nombre

January 12, 2011, 7:46 pm

"I was using Microsoft's "App Studio" in Visual C++ nearly 20 years ago,"


Yes, but this is about the overwhelmingly vast majority of people that think in terms of programs that reside in their Windows 'Programs Files' directory or more likely as shortcuts on their desktop and people that have grown up thinking in terms of applications/apps sitting in the 'Applications' folder in the Mac OS/OS X.

If the average Windows users (as opposed to devs) typically talked about apps before the introduction of iPhone/iTunes app store I'd be surprised. From my own personal experience I can't think of one instance and I can't think of a good reason why my experience would be atypical.

"it would be like B&Q trying to trademark 'Hardware Store'."


We are talking about the B&Q that has DIY.com aren't we.

And no, I'm not directly equating a domain name with a trademark but it's still funny.

"ie they could trademark 'App Store'"


Isn't that what they're going for?

Anyway, microcomputer and software must have seemed pretty generic when someone decided to make a portmanteau of them.


January 12, 2011, 7:50 pm

@Pendejo Sin Nombre - sorry, but I've used the term application (and abbreviation of app) for a system (using one or more programs) since before Apple was even a gleam in Steve Jobs eye (OK, I exagerate, but only a little). After all, Lotus 1-2-3 was described as a killer app back in the very early '80s...


January 12, 2011, 7:51 pm

I have been in IT 20 odd years and "App" or "Application" has always been a generic term for as long as I can recall. Absolutely NOT Apple centric.

@Pendejo: one or more programs make up an application!

Think M$ have a point on this one.

Pendejo Sin Nombre

January 12, 2011, 8:35 pm

"After all, Lotus 1-2-3 was described as a killer app back in the very early '80s&#8230"


And VisiCalc on the Apple II before that, but the sort of people that talk about killer apps and know what the A in API stands for are not the people MS are worried about. This is about laymen and mindshare.

Seriously, what brought the term app to the general public consciousness?


January 12, 2011, 11:16 pm

I've been hearing the word App ever since I started using computers way back over 20 years ago. Apple have no claim to the word and MS (and the others which are against it) are completely correct in saying so.

Tim Sutton

January 12, 2011, 11:51 pm


"In addition to Google's own app marketplace, Amazon, Verizon and Vodafone have all announced that they are creating their own app stores for Android. There will be at least four app stores on Android which customers must search through to find the app they want and developers will need to work to distribute their apps and get paid."

-Steve Jobs, October 2010.

As shown by scary Mr. Magical himself, App and App Store are entirely generic terms. Microsoft aren't claiming it, just objecting to anyone else claiming it.


January 13, 2011, 12:21 am

@Pendejo, sorry disagree. I work in IT, but deliver solutions to Non-IT people (mostly on non-MS platforms and certainly not Apple!). As such, the term is very common with anybody who has used a computer in anyway. Never recall every being asked "What is an application?" or "Isn't an app somthing I buy from Apple?" lmao


January 13, 2011, 2:44 am

In a shock counter move, Apple today bought Everest Windows and Conservatories, and counter-sued Microsoft over its use of the word windows, citing a more appropriate term would be pane.

Tech analysts are looking forward to the subsequent release of Microsoft Pane 8 in 2012.

Tim Sutton

January 13, 2011, 3:12 am


That's really rather laboured, I'm not sure I'd have bothered to be honest.

And it rather misses the point. Microsoft aren't going to court to stop Apple using the term App Store, they're going to court to stop Apple being the ONLY people allowed to use the term App Store.


January 13, 2011, 3:18 pm

Come on now what's wrong with this? Everyone knows that Apple invented apps and that they didn't exist before the iPhone. Don't they? ;-)

It's funny to see Charles Arthur at the Gurdian (a true Apple devotee for those of you who accuse TR) spin this story with the headline "Why Apple shouldn't be allowed to trademark App Store - by the folk who trademarked Windows".

Arctic Fox

January 14, 2011, 8:16 am


Quite apart from agreeing with Tim Sutton's reply to your posting I would like to point out something else by addressing your analogy directly. No one had used the term "windows" in the context of computing to describe a particular os before MS. The only trademark protection MS have is where they have trademarked a particular word, in a particular context, with a particular use _which they invented_. Anyone in the business of selling double-glazing is safe from being sued by MS. In contrast Apple did not invent the term "app" nor did they invent its use in the context of IT. In short they did not invent anything unique in the context which would permit them to have sole rights to the term "app store". Had they instead trademarked a formulation that they had invented and was strongly associated with the Apple brand then their position would be bullet-proof. I offer, as an example, free pro bono and all that the term "iApps" which in turn would have allowed them to trademark the term "iApps store" because its meaning is "a store where you can buy Apple applications". Nobody would dispute their right to trademark such a brand-specific formulation.

Pendejo Sin Nombre

January 14, 2011, 4:22 pm

'In contrast Apple did not invent the term "app" nor did they invent its use in the context of IT.'


Salesforce didn't invent the term 'sales force' nor were they the first to use it whether in the field of computing or not. The same goes for Saleforce's 'AppStore' - the trademark of which is now dead I think and coincident with Salesforce transferring appstore.com to Apple.

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