Apple App Store trademark hearing set for Nov 18

Apple's Australian trademark application for the term 'App Store' will take place in November.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Apple has received a hearing date for the appeal of its attempt to trademark the term "App Store" in Australia, with the trial set to take place in the Federal Court in Sydney from November 18, 2013.

The Cupertino giant appealed the matter to the Australian Federal Court in March this year, after having the trademark's initial acceptance revoked and then losing the legal battle twice, once by the decision of a trademark examiner and then by the Australian Trade Marks Office.

Apple had first submitted the trademark application in July 2008, just seven days after the worldwide launch of its App Store. The application initially gained acceptance in Australia, but was rescinded before actual registration could occur, due to the decision by the Trade Marks Office that its App Store did not offer anything to differentiate itself from the services provided by the app stores of other, similar companies, as required under Section 41(5) of the Trade Marks Act.

It took the matter higher, this time with expert evidence of the term's idiomatic usage within Australia and evidence from a September 2011 survey demonstrating that around 79 percent of those canvassed had heard of Apple's store.

The examiner found that the term "App Store" could be trademarked in relation to Apple's software and telecommunications services, but not in regards to its software retailing, as there was no discernable difference between its store and others.

Apple then proceeded to the Registrar of Trade Marks, whose representative found that the initial acceptance of Apple's trademark in 2008 was not proof of its services being distinct from others', as it was unknown if any examination on the unique nature of the term "App Store" had been undertaken at the time.

The Australian Trade Marks Office then refused Apple's application to trademark the term, again due to its failure to set apart its services from similar offerings by other companies. Apple appealed the decision, with the above hearing date set aside for the case, in which Apple will be permitted to advance new evidence.

In the US, Apple launched a lawsuit against Amazon over its use of the term "app store" in 2011. Amazon uses the term "Appstore" to sell its services; however, Apple dropped the lawsuit in July this year.

"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."

Last month, Apple also lodged an application to trademark the word "startup" in Australia.

Apple launched its new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c today.

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