We changed what 'app' means: Apple

We changed what 'app' means: Apple

Summary: Apple has argued that when it sought to trademark the term 'App Store' in Australia in 2008, the definition of what we understand to be an app was changing.


Counsel acting for Apple in its Australian Federal Court case against the Registrar of Trademarks has argued that although the term 'app' existed before Apple sought to trademark 'App Store' in 2008, Apple itself was changing the definition of the word through the release of the iPhone.

Apple took the registrar to court in March this year after the 'App Store' trademark's initial acceptance was revoked and after the company lost an appeal of the decision twice, firstly by the trademark examiner and then by the Australian Trade Marks Office.

After hearing from linguists from both sides late last month over the history of the term, Justice David Yates today was told by Apple that although the use of the phrase 'killer app' could be traced back to 1998, the evidence from the linguists show that when Apple 'coined' the term App Store, it was turning into something else.

"The fact that one of its components — app — was as a stand alone word, itself in something of a transition at the date of the filing of the application," Apple counsel Ron Webb said.

He argued there were many "metaphorical uses" of the term 'app' that didn't have a practical meaning in the same context as was used by Apple in describing software applications.

"We say that must reflect back to the filing date in 2008 and one can see that at that time, it had some layer of meaning that wasn’t purely application software," he said.

"The use within [Killer App] expressly meant 'marketing strategies deployed in the real world for marketing purposes'," Webb said. 

He added that at the time of filing in June 2008, there was no use of the term "App Store" until around 2009.

Evidence from Google Trends also pointed to the fact that App Store gained more prominence after June 2008, he said.

"It demonstrates people are seeing the Apple marketing, and looking for the great new service of Apple."

Although there was evidence that Amazon had used the term 'App Store' in 2003, Webb said it "bears no resemblance" to what Amazon offers through its appstore now. In the US Apple abandoned its case against Amazon over the term 'appstore' in July.

The case continues this afternoon with counterarguments from the Registrar of Trademarks.

Topic: Apple


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Do judges is AUstralia have brains? Apparently Apple thinks they don't.

    Will they ask him to eat a s**t sandwich next? Applications have been called apps since before 1998. And app as in apples "App Store" are exactly what people think of as applications. I hope the judge laughs them out of the court room and fines them for wasting the Australian taxpayers money.
    Johnny Vegas
    • No one thought of "app" as a electronic downloadable, and no one in mass ..

      ... public knew what "app" was before Apple ANYWAY.
    • just another proof Apple is a rotten, immoral company

      just another proof Apple is a rotten, immoral company ... .I have to say that the US people must be really d*mb:

      Apple censoring iCloud emails and attachments.
      Apple omits (censores?) some words you'd like to send :)

      Because of Apple we have to pay more for eBooks in the whole world - Apple played 'central role' in ebook price-fixing conspiracy
      Apple Inc is using anti-competitive iPhone sales tactics and technical restrictions to squeeze out rival smartphone makers from the European market?

      Greedy Apple - Because of the trust Apple+Microsoft+Adobe you have to pay more for IT in Australia.

      Apple is a company you CAN NOT trust a word, confirmed by a judge: U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal says court cannot believe Apple in privacy case.
      • Right

        Because publishers hadn't been fixing pricing on books for years.

        Do you have any proof of Apple's anti-competitive practices in the EU?

        For that matter do you have proof of anything you've posted?
    • And IIRC

      Apple was the one who called programs installed on mac "Applications" rather than programs starting with the first mac. And no, the apps in Apple's App Store was NOT what people thought of as app - it was the full blown Mac-compatible programs that were referred to with the "apps" shorthand.

      But don't take my word for it - Google or Bing it yourself.
      • and here's me thinking that 'app'...

        was a reference to Apple's 'app'...ropriate and ethical treatment of its Chinese slave labourers...
    • Soon they will...

      apply to trademark "apple".
      a hobbit
    • australians are stupid

      how dare you use such blasphemous tone while reffering to apple
    • life facts

      a half eaten apple make you smart
  • Apple put the fruit

    Into fruitloops
  • Good Grief

    I talked about applications back in 1978 and everyone shorthanded this to app. Ridiculous effort by Apple.
  • Re: Sell that story to fools, apple....

    Things to write about must be quite sparse at the moment with comical articles 2 days in succession regarding the Chrome Book threat to Microsoft.

    Now that was hilarious !
  • But you aren't buying it...

    Funny that. Applications is a generic term, but it's the one Apple always used. Now, everyone is using it. My guess is you are not happy that we are not talking about the executables store or the programs store. I'm sure you will correct me though.

    Riddle me this. Do you call it the 'trash' or the 'waste bin'? Which is a copy and which came first? (Easy question there…)
  • Re: Do you call it the 'trash' or the 'waste bin'?

    I call it the “Recycle Bin”

    Hahhahhahh! LOL