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Microsoft and Apple hire linguists to dispute ‘App Store’ claim

Microsoft has filed an objection over Apple’s objection to Microsoft’s objection. It’s just the latest round in the two computing giants’ fight over Apple’s trademark claim on “App Store.”

Microsoft yesterday filed a complaint (PDF) that included the expert opinions of Ronald Butters, a linguist paid $400 an hour by Microsoft. Those opinions, of course, corroborated Microsoft’s view that “App Store” is too generic and too widely used to qualify for trademark status.

“The compound noun app store means simply ‘store at which apps are offered for sale,’ which is merely a definition of the thing itself–a generic characterization,” Butters wrote.

Microsoft’s semantic parsing of “App Store” is meant to challenge the opinion of Apple’s own hired gun and linguistic expert Robert A. Leonard. Leonard, on behalf of Apple, argued that “App Store” is indeed a proper noun, even if the two words are generic when separated, and therefore deserves trademark recognition. Leonard was paid $350 an hour for his services.

Apple had originally applied for “App Store” trademark back in 2008, shortly after launching the online app portal for the iPhone. Microsoft took up the fight against the trademark claim in January of this year, around the time that Apple launched the App Store for Mac. Apple filed a rebuttal which included the argument that “App Store” was just as generic as Microsoft’s trademark on “Windows.”

Microsoft’s latest filing cited Amazon’s newly-launched Appstore for Android as evidence in favor of its argument that “App Store” is a generic, commonly used term Last week, Apple filed a lawsuit against Amazon, claiming trademark infringement.

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