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July 10, 2013

Amazon and Apple Come to Terms on 'App Store' Use

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

Recently, Apple (News - Alert) and Amazon had a bit of a lawsuit going over the use of the term “app store” that went on for several years. Apple launched its App Store back in 2008—July of 2008, no less, so there's something of an anniversary afoot—and Amazon followed suit somewhat with the Amazon Appstore for Android (News - Alert) in March of 2011. That was the same month that Apple filed suit, and now, almost two and a half years later, the suit is over, and both companies can use the name.

A new trial had been scheduled for August 19, but in something of a twist development, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, Calif, ordered the case dismissed at the companies' request, leaving the need for the August 19 trial largely moot. Prior to this, Apple issued what's called a covenant to Amazon, saying that there would be no suing over the use of the term “app store,” which in turn freed Amazon up to use the term and prevented the need to file suit to get permission from courts so to do.

As for why Apple dropped its case, Apple's Kristin Huguet summed it up in her remarks: “We no longer see a need to pursue our case. With more than 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads, customers know where they can purchase their favorite apps.”

Amazon, naturally, was happy about the decision, as described by Amazon's Mary Osako, who said, “We're gratified that the court has conclusively dismissed this case. We look forward to continuing our focus on delivering the best possible appstore experience to customers and developers.”

The suit actually made sense on both sides; while Apple had been using the name since 2008, as noted earlier, Amazon countered that the term “app store” was sufficiently generic that there really wouldn't be much confusion on customers' part. Even Apple's own chief executives had been spotted using the term generically; Tim Cook was heard noting “the number of app stores out there,” while Steve Jobs (News - Alert) had noted the “four app stores on Android.”

That seems to have ultimately been found to be the case—there probably weren't very many Apple users looking for apps on Amazon—though it's worth wondering why it took two and a half years to ultimately come to that conclusion, especially when Judge Hamilton had dismissed the false advertising claims of the case as far back as January.

Still, that the companies have agreed to carry on largely as-is will likely prove a welcome development, as both companies can stop diverting resources to fighting over who can use the term “app store” and getting more apps in, as well as doing things like improving the count of titles in the streaming video sections of both companies. With Apple TV well on its way, looking to get in some fresh Time Warner content and Amazon bringing in impressive new arrays of content, there's plenty of room for development.

After all, competition is pretty brisk in the streaming video sector, and getting more titles in certainly never hurts. It likely would have been better had this whole “app store” conclusion been reached much sooner, but better late than never.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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