Apple Inc. on Friday sued Amazon.com for trademark infringement just before the giant online retailer launched its mobile 'appstore' to sell software applications for Android devices.
Amazon.com launched its new mobile applications store for the Android platform on Tuesday. It's called the Amazon Appstore.
The company is bringing its vast experience with consumer retailing and applying it to the business of selling software both online and through mobile devices.
Many of the software programs available through Amazon.com's Appstore are very similar to the ones available through Apple's iOS, and thus could make using an Android device almost indistinguishable from an iPhone -- although Amazon is offering a distinct new feature called Test Drive, which allows users to try out an App before they buy it.
Amazon's advantage also is that it already has a large established user base of customers whose buying and payment account information they already have, and which they can integrate into this new platform.
Friday's suit was filed in federal district court in the Northern District of California.
“Amazon has begun improperly using Apple’s App Store mark in connection with Amazon’s mobile-software developer program,” Apple's lawyers said in the complaint.
Apple first applied for the trademark on the term "App Store" in 2008. The USPTO has since granted it.
In January, Microsoft challenged Apple's trademarking of the term in a proceeding at the USPTO.
The company charges that the term 'App Store' is too generic to be trademarked.
Many other companies, such as Google, Research in Motion, Nokia, Hewlett Packard and Palm and Samsung describe their mobile stores for software as "app stores," Microsoft notes.
Apple fired back in a filing earlier this month saying that Microsoft's argument relies on "out of context" snippets of information, and that if the USPTO agrees with Microsoft, it would have to revoke numerous other kinds of trademarks it has granted in other industries.