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Some days, watching the tech news cycle is like watching a soap opera. The Web is abuzz today with news that, on Friday, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) sued Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) for violating its trademark on the term "app store." Amazon's using the term to describe the digital market for Android apps that it's launching today.
On the surface, the suit seems loony. Don't we all use "app" and "app store" as generic terms? With each, we're describing broad concepts. Sure, iPhones have apps -- but so does every other smartphone out there. And where do we get these apps? App stores, of course. Even Steve Jobs says so. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) has filed a petition to invalidate Apple's app store patent precisely because of our propensity to use these terms in common speech.
But don't be too quick to burn your mock turtleneck in protest. Amazon.com may have opened this particular can of worms when it patented "one-click checkout" more than a decade ago. Apple has since licensed the term for use in its own digital stores.
Now their roles are reversed. Apple contacted Amazon three times, demanding that the retailer stop using "app store" in describing its efforts to sell mobile software, Bloomberg reports. Apparently, the folks at Cupertino received no "substantive" response.
As a result, Apple alleges that Amazon.com unlawfully recruited software developers by trading on the "app store" moniker. Really? As if coders didn't already know that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) was working overtime to get more of them writing Android software? Claims don't come more ridiculous than that.
Yet the broader point remains. If Amazon can patent an ordering system and naming scheme, why can't Apple patent an app store? Pot, meet kettle.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about Apple's lawsuit, Amazon.com's Android app store (sorry, Apple), and the state of patent and trademark filings using the comments box below.
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