Judge Tells Amazon and Apple to Play Nice

In a move resembling a parent telling the kids to play nice, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) were ordered to confer for settlement talks over their “app store” trademark dilemma.

The app stores

First, there was Apple’s “App Store,” then there was Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) “Android Market” — which became “Google Play” last year — and then there was Amazon’s “Amazon Appstore.” Though Google and Apple have their own issues to contend over, the names of their respective application marketplaces are clearly not points of contention. However, Amazon and Apple have a little more in common than Apple would like.

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Amazon launched its Appstore in March 2011, and in very little time at all, Apple launched its claim against Amazon over the “Appstore” portion of the title, denying that the words “app store” together denote a store for apps, despite the common meaning of the individual words, and pushing for Amazon’s Appstore to need a new name. As the owner of the “App Store” trademark, this case could prove significant to Apple…

The debate

A significant point in the debate is whether the term “app store” is truly generic or not, with Amazon arguing that it is, and Apple arguing the opposite. Amazon has won some momentum in the case this month, as it won dismissal of the claim that its use of the term was false advertising.

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Apple and Amazon are expected to meet on March 21st to settle the case, as directed U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte. If Amazon wins its claim, it will be able to breathe a little easier and other “app stores” may start popping up elsewhere, but if Apple wins its claim, Amazon may have to do some careful renaming, and other companies will also have to abide the ruling, as it will set a precedent for future patent cases Apple may bring against them.

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