Registering "App Store" as a trade mark
Microsoft does the right thing
Published 14:11, 19 January 11
It's always nice to be able to report that Microsoft is doing the right thing, and in this case, everyone's favourite abuser-of-a-dominant-position seems to be. It's been reported that Microsoft is objecting to Apple's attempts to register "App Store" as a registered trade mark in the US.
Microsoft's argument is that "app" is a common abbreviation for the English word "application", and that "store" means, well, store. Stringing them together doesn't make them any more distinctive. And I can't argue with that. (As a rule, it's not supposed to be possible to register a trade marks that monopolises pre-existing language).
Interestingly, "App Store" has already been registered in the EU for some time (something the BBC could have discovered in less than two minutes of online searching - see here)), suggesting that the original story was fed to them somehow.
There's no indication on the OHIM website (the registry for Community Trade Marks) that there has been any objection to the registration in the EU. Which is a pity. I'd be interested in hearing from a trade mark agent, or someone who can drive the OHIM website better than me, whether there are any similar proceedings in the EU.
"App" has been short for "application" for donkey's years: see here for example: a usenet posting from 1989 which uses the term "killer app" in several places.
Businesses abuse the trade mark system by treating it as a sort of land-grab. You may recall the Futurama gag that that "Popplers" was one of only two possible trademarks remaining available (the other being "Zitzlers").
I'd like to be able to report that as life parodies art, Warner Brothers had trademarked popplers. Sadly, they haven't. However, they have registered a trademark for Slurm .