Apple has defended its moves to trademark the term ‘App Store’ despite attacks from companies such as Microsoft who claim the phrase is too generic to be copyrighted.
Apple moved to ring fence its business here by filing an application with the US Patent & Trademark Office as soon as the store launched but has refused to respond to criticisms of this move until now.
It has stated that precedents in trademark law – such as The Paper Store and The Container Store – back up its argument that “arguably descriptive” names can, in fact, have a trademark granted.
Apple has moved to have Microsoft’s formal objections in January dismissed and even criticised the latter for its trademark battles over the Windows name.
Apple’s filing stated, “Having itself faced a decades-long genericness challenge to its claimed Windows mark, Microsoft should be well aware that the focus in evaluating genericness is on the mark as a whole and requires a fact-intensive assessment of the primary significance of the term to a substantial majority of the relevant public.”
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s rival mobile app store, Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, has announced it now has 9,000 different apps available. It lags some way behind the estimated 350,000 apps on the Apple App Store and the 260,000 apps on Android Market.
Apple opened its App Store in July 2008 and has so far delivered more than 10bn app downloads. It broke the stranglehold that mobile operators had on apps and is now seeing increasing competition from Google’s Android, BlackBerry and Nokia’s Ovi among others.
A recent report by HIS claims that Apple’s App Store generated revenues of $1.78bn (£1.09bn) last year, accounting for 82.7% of the market. It was followed by BlackBerry App world with revenues of $165m (£101.3m) and Ovi Store with revenues of $105m (£64.5m).
The fact that Android Marketplace was not in the top three was explained by the fact that, for the moment, the majority of its apps are being offered for free. This may change as its installed user base on smartphones and tablets increase. Last week, Google announced it was now activating an average of 350,000 Android devices a day.
Huge optimism surrounds the financial potential for the mobile apps market. Forrester has recently forecast that app sales globally will reach $38bn (£23.3bn) by 2015, an enormous leap on from $1.7bn (£1.04bn) last year.