Dueling linguists brought in to argue Apple's App Store trademark

Apple and the Australian Trade Marks Office will bring their own linguists to argue over the definition of the term 'App Store'.
Written by Nic Healey, Contributor

The latest chapter in Apple's fight to trademark the term 'App Store' in Australia got underway today, with day one of the hearings at the Federal Court in Sydney focusing on the semantics of the term Apple has sought to claim for itself.

Apple has been seeking a trademark on the term since July 2008 after the launch of the App Store. Despite an initial acceptance of the trademark application, it was later revoked and subsequent applications have twice been defeated in court.

The Cupertino-based tech giant appealed to the Federal Court in March of this year after the Australian Trade Marks Office once again refused Apple's application to trademark the term, after the Registrar of Trade Marks found that the initial acceptance of Apple's trademark in 2008 was not proof of its services being distinct from others', as laid out under Section 41(5) of the Trade Marks Act.

In this current appeal, Apple representatives are seeking to show that the term 'App Store' has been inherent associated with their client since July 2008, with the term having had no particular currency before this date. Counsel for the company called the impact of Apple's use of the term "immediate and dramatic".

Apple is seeking to highlight the public's association between Apple and the term 'App Store' using a NewsPoll survey, Google Trends data, and how the term has been used both online and in print media.

Both Apple and the Registrar have stated their intention to call linguists to the witness stand to discuss the semantic nature of the term 'App Store' with the Registrar seeking to show that both the word 'app' and 'store' have settled meanings that allow for them to be clearly and contextually understood when placed in the phrase 'App Store' in a manner that does not require a reference to Apple or Apple products.

The Registrar also noted that 'appstore' as one word had been a registered trademark of the US-based cloud services company Salesforce in June 2006 indicating an understanding and use of the term well before Apple's application for trademark.

The hearing resumes at 9am tomorrow morning.

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