I told a colleague this week I won't be surprised if "intellectual property" ends up the most popular tag on this blog for 2011. If companies aren't suing each other for copyright or patent infringement, then someone is trying to block a competitor's trademark application.
Like Microsoft and Apple.
Apple applied to trademark the phrase "app store" in 2008 when it began selling applications for its iPhone. At the time, The Wall Street Journal reports:
Apple said the app store encompassed "retail store services featuring computer software provided via the Internet and other computer and electronic communication networks," among other things.
Since then, the company's app store has grown to more than 300,000 applications for the iPhone, iPod Touch and now the iPad. Competitors including Google, Research in Motion, Palm and even Microsoft have followed suit and created app stores for their own devices.
And in a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Monday, Microsoft is opposing the "app store" trademark application because it's a generic term that is "widely used" to identify offerings by different providers.
(Funny, but as far as I can tell, Apple is the only one of those mentioned here that calls its collection of applications a "store." RIM's is "App World." Google and Microsoft use "App Marketplace." Palm's doesn't seem to have a name.)
According to a statement from Microsoft's associate general counsel, Russell Pangborn, "An app store is an app store." We'll see what the USPTO has to say about that.