Microsoft, Nokia aim to nullify Apple trademark on App Store

A fight over the use of the 'App Store' term now rages in both the U.S. and Europe

New partners Microsoft and Nokia have joined forces, hoping to invalidate Apple's trademark registration for the terms App Store and AppStore in Europe, according to a statement issued by Microsoft.

Sony Ericsson and HTC are also joining the effort. Microsoft considers that "App store," like "toy store" or "book store," is a generic term that should continue to be available for everyone to use for stores that sell applications, a Microsoft representative said via email. Nokia's position is similar: "Both terms lack distinctiveness and so the registrations should not have been granted," a Nokia spokeswoman said via email.

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The attack on Apple's trademarks in Europe was started by Amazon last month. The electronic retailer has good reason to try to invalidate Apple's trademarks. In March, it launched the Appstore for Android, where is sells applications for Android-based smartphones and tablets. So far, it is only available in the U.S.

At the same time, Apple has applied for a new European trademark on App Store, which expands the scope of the existing one.

In Europe, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) handles the registration of trademarks. A trademark grants its proprietor, in this case Apple, an exclusive right to prevent unauthorized use of the term without its consent, and if a company infringes on those rights it is allowed to take legal action, the OHIM said on its website.

Microsoft and Amazon are also battling Apple in the U.S. In March, Apple filed a lawsuit against Amazon in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Apple's action came after Amazon launched its Appstore,

Microsoft is trying to stop Apple from getting a trademark on App Store in the U.S.

Apple doesn't comment on pending litigation, a spokesman said via email.

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