We changed what 'app' means: Apple

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Apple took the registrar to court in March this year after the 'App Store' trademark's initial acceptance was revoked and after the company lost an appeal of the decision twice, firstly by the trademark examiner and then by the Australian Trade Marks Office.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