There is an interesting intellectual-property case brewing in northern California. OK, so it was filed a while ago. But what was wimmering may be starting to come to a full oil, and it involves two culturally iconic names: Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). And it has to do with the app-lication of the term “app store.”
Apple filed a lawsuit against Amazon in March of last year, claiming trademark rights to the term “app store” and accusig Amazon of using the term to mislead consumers and software developers in directing them to Amazon’s Kindle platform.
Amazon, of course, disagrees, arguing that the U.S. Trademark Office hadn’t yet given approval to Apple for the exclusive use of the term “app store,” and thus the term is in the public domain.
The latest wrinkle now is a report that Apple has requested the court to require an executive from Amazon.com to testify in the case. The latest claim over the trademark is that Apple alleges that Amazon had “consciously” omitted the term “for Android” from its Appstore name, making things even more confusing for customers seeking Apple apps.
Apple and Amazon don’t have just this front to pick fights. There is this fight that the Department of Justice initiated that essentially targets publishers (as well as Apple) and bookstores, who are charged with collusion (price-fixing) on their e-books. If the suit goes through, the charge is that Amazon will come out as the unquestioned leader and the market for ebooks would be suppressed in Amazon’s favor – which certainly could be something Apple wouldn’t want to see.
Maybe this “app store” battle is somehow related. Maybe it’s not. But clearly, Apple and Amazon are at odds in trying to get digital market share in the app and ebook niches. These are two legal battles that apparently will go on for a while, and it seems that Apple is going to fight for every inch of territory, though Amazon’s Kindle founded the territory.
The results of these two lawsuits could very well determine the trajectories of each company going forward. Will Amazon have a more open avenue to dominate the ebook market? Will Amazon have to try to create brand recognition with something other than “app store”?