Amazon Appstore

A federal judge in San Francisco has rejected Apple’s request for an injunction that would prohibit Amazon from using the term “app store” to describe its new… well, app store. The case is far from over, but at this point it means that the Amazon Appstore can keep operating under its current name.

Basically, Apple says it has the trademark on “app store,” and the company sued Amazon recently for violating that trademark. Amazon has insisted the term is a generic, descriptive term.

The judge hasn’t ruled on that. In fact, the case doesn’t even come up for a full trial until October, 2012. But Apple had sought a preliminary injunction that would have prevented Amazon from using the term in advance of the trial, and the judge has ruled against that injunction.

In denying the request, the judge writes “Apple has not established that its ‘App Store’ mark is famous,” and that while Apple has spent a lot of money advertising the App Store and that the store has become well recognized because of it, “there is also evidence that the term ‘app store’ is used b y other companies as a descriptive term for a place to obtain software applications for mobile devices.”

The judge also rejects a claim that actions taken in the Amazon Appstore could affect the reputation of Apple’s App Store — since one offers Android apps only and the other exclusively offers iOS apps. So even if Amazon somehow allows malware to enter its marketplace, it should have no bearing on the App Store name.

None of this seems to bode well for Apple’s chances at trial — but the trial date is still more than a year away, so Apple’s lawyers have plenty of time to strengthen their case… or seek a settlement with Amazon.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...