Steve Jobs' Android jabs may cost him App Store trademark

By JR Raphael

Amazon Apple App Store Trademark

Quick: When you hear the phrase "app store," what's the first thing that comes to mind?

That's the question a couple of tech's biggest players -- Apple and Amazon -- are fighting over right now. Apple says "app store" is synonymous with its iOS App Store alone; Amazon says the term is generic and can be used by anyone.

You've heard about this battle, right? Apple is suing Amazon for using the term "app store" (or, more specifically, "Appstore") in the name of its new Android application store. Apple claims it owns the trademark and has exclusive rights to the term.

But Amazon isn't buying it. The retail giant is now firing back against Apple's suit -- and using Steve Jobs' own words as ammo.

In a court document filed this week, published by the gang at GeekWire.com, Amazon's lawyers quote Jobs' October 2010 earnings call rant as evidence that "app store" is, in fact, a generic phrase. Remember that whole debacle? Jobs popped in during the company's official call and proceeded to spend several minutes frantically raving about all things Android.

Some highlights relevant to our discussion today (the bolding is mine):

What about Google? Last week, Eric Schmidt reiterated that they are activating 200,000 Android devices per day and have around 90,000 apps in their app store. ...

In addition to Google's own app marketplace, Amazon, Verizon, and Vodafone have all announced that they are creating their own app stores for Android. So there will be at least four app stores on Android ...

Contrast this with Apple's integrated App Store, which offers users the easiest-to-use, largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone.

See what happened there? Jobs -- whose company is now claiming the term "app store" is not a generic term that can be used to refer to any storefront -- used the term "app store" generically to refer to numerous storefronts. And you'd better believe Amazon noticed.

In its recently revealed counter-filing, Amazon says this:

On information and belief, in 2008 Apple launched its app store, which allows a consumer to view and instantly download apps for their Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. In press releases, Apple has claimed that its app store is "the largest application store in the world." In October 2010, Apple's CEO Steve Jobs called Apple's app store "the easiest-to-use, largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone."

The company also points out other evidence suggesting that "app store" is not Apple-specific, including an Oxford English Dictionary definition of "app" (hint: it relates to "application," not "Apple") and a quote from the American Dialect Society about the "arrival of 'app stores' for a wide spectrum of operating systems for phones and computers."

But it's the bit from Jobs' own rant against Android -- and, specifically, the debut of Amazon's app store -- that holds the sharpest ironic bite. And for that, we are proud to award Mr. Jobs the following well-earned distinction:

Steve Jobs Foot In Mouth Award
Android Power Twitter

At the rate we're going, satirical stories like Apple's pending lawsuit against God (the fruit is too similar to the logo) suddenly don't seem so far-fetched.

(Certificate template courtesy FunnyEmployeeAwards.com)

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, on Twitter, or at eSarcasm, his geek-humor getaway

Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

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