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Kindle Fire added to Apple app store suit against Amazon

A web screenshot of Amazon's Appstore that Apple included, along with other examples, in its amended complaint against the company.

Apple has filed an amended complaint against Amazon, accusing it of unfair competition by further tweaking the "Appstore" name for customers of the new Kindle Fire, saying the change is "likely to confuse consumers."

Apple launched its "App Store" in July 2008, and since then, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the company's application to register "App Store" as a trademark. Since then, of course, app stores become a familiar phrase to users of many different phones, but other companies have come up with different names for them, be they subtly different ("BlackBerry App World") or more clearly distinguished ("Android Market").

The Cupertino company filed suit in federal court against Amazon last spring to stop it from using the "Amazon Appstore Developer Portal," and other similar app store references for its app program. A preliminary injunction was denied.

But in a second complaint filed this week, Apple said that in September, as Amazon prepared for the Kindle Fire's release:

... Amazon began altering its use of the infringing mark by omitting or de-emphasizing the use of the "for Android" suffix to the “Amazon Appstore” phrase. For example, when Amazon announced in late September 2011 that it would introduce a new hardware product named the Kindle Fire ... Amazon promoted the Fire’s ability to use Amazon’s mobile software download service but omitted the “for Android” phrase when using the APPSTORE mark.

... Amazon’s alteration of its usage does not appear to be limited to promotions connected to the Fire. Set forth below is an image obtained from Amazon’s website on November 7, 2011. That image shows Amazon’s use of the phrase “Amazon Appstore Gift Cards” in large type with references to “for Android” or to “Android” in smaller, less prominent type...

Amazon has not commented on the suit itself.

Meanwhile, the app store name war goes on. Microsoft filed a legal challenge to Apple's trademark approval earlier this year with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. In that suit, Microsoft said "the combined term 'app store' is commonly used in the trade, by the general press, by consumers, by Apple’s competitors ... as the generic name for online stores featuring apps." (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.) The company calls its app store "Windows Marketplace."

In its amended complaing against Amazon, Apple said of its App Store that:

...to date, there have been more than 18 billion downloads of programs through the service by more than 250 million devices worldwide. An average of over a million downloads take place every hour worldwide. There are currently more than 500,000 software programs available for download on the APP STORE service. Apple has extensively advertised, marketed and promoted the APP STORE service and the APP STORE mark, spending millions of dollars on print, television, and internet advertising.

And, the company noted, Amazon's use of "Appstore" is also likely to "dilute the distinctiveness of Apple’s APP STORE mark, to tarnish the image of Apple’s APP STORE mark, to misrepresent the nature, characteristics and qualities of Amazon’s mobile download service and/or to deceive or have a tendency to deceive a substantial segment of consumers into believing that Amazon’s service has the nature, characteristics, and/or qualities of Apple’s APP STORE service."

— Via ArsTechnica

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