GetJar growls at Apple "app store" trademark claim

Ronny Kerr · July 8, 2011 · Short URL:

Though one of the biggest app stores in the world, GetJar told by Apple to stop using trademark

The “App Store” trademark skirmish just got a lot more interesting.

A law firm representing Apple has issued a cease-and-desist letter to GetJar, one of the largest open app stores on the Web, for its use of the term “app store.” (via WSJ.)

At the heart of the confrontation is Apple’s firm belief that it should own the rights to the trademark “App Store,” which is, as everyone knows, the name of the iOS store for mobile apps. Apple’s lawyers told GetJar that they should instead use a phrase like "mobile download service" or "application download service.”

GetJar isn’t budging, though.

In a blog post, CMO Patrick Mork dives deep into why he and the company are “surprised” and “disappointed” by Apple’s legal action.

For them, it comes down to the simple fact that Apple may not actually own the “app store” trademark. Though it was granted a “provisional registration,” that may not be enough. In January of this year, Microsoft filed a motion with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) saying that the phrase “app store” is so generic that no company, not even Apple, should own exclusive rights to it.

On top of that, GetJar has been using the phrase in press releases and in its products since early 2009, with not a word from Apple.

Says Mork:

In conclusion, GetJar won’t be subject to this kind of bullying.  We’re not going to “Cease & Desist”.  We were here long before Steve & Co.  We were built by developers, to help developers.  Not to help sell handsets or search results. In the words of Twisted Sister: We’re not going to take it! Steve Jobs isn’t our Dad.

We have always been an advocate for developers. We’ve shared our manifesto on pricing. As a matter of fact, we’re hereby starting a Facebook Cause called The Open And Free App Movement (#OFAM) to encourage every pissed off developer, start-up, carrier, OEM or NGO who is fed up with this crap to make their voice heard.

GetJar isn’t the first to deal with Apple’s lawyers over this issue. In March, Apple sued Amazon for its Android “Appstore.”

Though it’s no titan like Amazon, Apple or Microsoft, GetJar is not just any tiny startup. The company, which has been around since 2004, has secured over $36 million in venture capital, with the most recent round being its $25 million Series C raised by Tiger Global Management in February.

So while we might have seen a smaller shop buckle in fear of Apple and its legal army, GetJar has decided to stand its ground.

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes