Microsoft has filed a formal application for declaration of invalidity with the European Union's Community Trade Mark office over Apple's "App Store" trademark. The European declaration is a continuance of the Redmond company's campaign begun in the US in January. "App Store" is perhaps one of the hottest trademarks in the world today, as the future of much consumer technology seems to revolve around devices that get much of their added value from stores that give away or sell third-party apps.
It's no wonder Microsoft doesn't want Apple to be the sole owner of the term. "App Store" just has a nice and easy ring to it that "Android Market," "Ovi Store" and "Windows Phone Marketplace" just don't have. In a statement after the EU Community Trade Mark office filing, Microsoft said they were "seeking to invalidate Apple's trademark registration for APP STORE and APPSTORE because we believe that they should not have been granted because they both lack distinctiveness. The undisputed facts establish that 'app store' means exactly what it says, a store offering apps, and is generic for the services that the registrations cover."
Microsoft, of course, isn't alone in their war on the term's seemingly generic nature. In April, Amazon challenged Apple's use of the term in the US, and today in Europe Microsoft was joined by HTC, Nokia and Sony Ericsson. Of course, the obvious question to Microsoft is that if "app store" is generic, why isn't "Windows?" But perhaps more detrimental to Microsoft's case is that, as John Paczkowski of All Things D points out, Apple was the first company to request a trademark for "app store." But even much more interesting than that is that Paczkowski created a Google Trend line showing that the "app store" phrase didn't enter the vernacular until 2008 -- the time Apple began popularizing it.