We’ve reported on Apple suing Amazon (and Amazon countersuing) for daring to use the term “app store” to describe the application store it is operating for Android devices, including tablets. (Recently, Apple suffered a setback when a judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction to keep Amazon from using the term.) It has also been quibbling with Microsoft over issues to trademark the term in the US. (It already holds it in Europe.)

Now Apple has sent a cease-and-desist letter to free Java app repository GetJar, demanding that it stop calling itself “the world’s largest free app store.” GetJar is not any more inclined than was Amazon to accede to this demand. GetJar’s CMO Patrick Mork points out that the site has been in operation since 2005, well before Apple was offering an app store of its own. In a post to the company’s blog, Mork writes:

GetJar won’t be subject to this kind of bullying.  We’re not going to “Cease & Desist”.  We were here long before Steve & Co.  We were built by developers, to help developers.  Not to help sell handsets or search results. In the words of Twisted Sister: We’re not going to take it! Steve Jobs isn’t our Dad.

I suspect Apple may be facing an uphill battle here—if it was going to object to people using “app store” generically, perhaps it should not have waited for the use to become so entrenched. And it doesn’t make sense to allow a trademark a descriptive term for “a store where you buy apps.” You might as well let Lowes trademark "hardware store” or Safeway trademark “grocery store.”


  1. It doesn’t matter at this point if it is an uphill battle. This is a trademark issue which istreated differently than copyright or patents. IANAL but as I understand it — Until/unless a US judge says they ( Apple ) can’t own the trademark “App Store” they have to defend their current “ownership” of that trademark or they lose it. It isn’t like they have a choice under the current rules in the US. It’s an odd thing IMHO. If you don’t defend it you lose it. If you defend it so that you DON’T lose it, that very defense can cause you to lose it. I’m ambivalent about the whole issue. Internet “forum lawyers” tie themselves into knots trying to justify both sides of the issue. I don’t think it matters what Apple might have called their online app store. The anti-fanboys would object no matter what and the rabid Apple worshippers would claim Apple was the first to call their store that, whatever reality says.

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