Apple appeal dismissed for 'App Store' trademark

Apple's appeal to the Australian Federal Court to trademark the term 'App Store' has been dismissed, with Apple ordered to pay costs for both parties.

The Australian Federal Court has dismissed an appeal by Apple against the Australian Registrar of Trademarks that it has ownership over the term "App Store".

The judgment, delivered in Sydney on Wednesday by Justice Yates, stated that the term "'App Store' must be taken as not being capable of distinguishing the designated services as Apple's services", and that therefore its trademark application must be rejected.

Apple first took the registrar to court in March 2013, after the "App Store" trademark's initial acceptance in July 2008 was rescinded before actual registration could occur. The decision by the Trade Marks Office at the time stated that Apple's App Store did not offer anything to differentiate itself from the services provided by the app stores of similar companies, as required under Section 41(5) of the Trade Marks Act.

Apple appealed the decision, receiving a hearing date in September last year , with the trial set to take place in the Federal Court in Sydney from November 18, 2013.

In November 2013, Justice Yates heard evidence from linguists about the semantics of the term "app store", and whether it necessarily invokes Apple or Apple products.

Apple argued in December 2013 that in 2008, when Apple began using the App Store in conjunction with the launch of its iPhone, the term "app" changed to become associated with the products that Apple was offering.

Justice Yates reserved judgment on December 5 last year, before making a definitive ruling on December 3, 2014.

In 2011 in the US, Apple launched a similar lawsuit against Amazon over its use of the term "app store", as Amazon uses the term "Appstore" to sell its services. However, Apple dropped the lawsuit in July 2013.

"With more than 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads, customers know where they can purchase their favourite apps," Apple said at the time.

"We no longer see a need to pursue our case against Amazon."

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