Apple sues Amazon.com over 'App Store' trademark

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has filed suit against Amazon.com to block the online retail giant from using its App Store trademark in association with the forthcoming Amazon Appstore for Android. "Amazon has begun improperly using Apple's App Store mark in connection with Amazon's mobile software developer program," Apple said in the complaint, filed March 18 in California. "Amazon has unlawfully used the App Store mark to solicit software developers throughout the United States." The filing adds that Amazon plans to use the trademark in connection with direct-to-consumer application retail efforts, and states that Apple has contacted Amazon three times to demand that it cease using the trademark, noting Amazon hasn't "provided a substantive response."

The Apple complaint accuses Amazon.com of trademark infringement and unfair competition and petitions for a court order to prevent the retailer from using the "App Store" brand. Apple also seeks unspecified damages. "We've asked Amazon not to copy the App Store name because it will confuse and mislead customers," an Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg.

The Amazon Appstore for Android is poised to open March 22, Wired reports. Citing a trusted source involved in the launch, the report states that consumers will be able to purchase applications via the Amazon website or directly through a native app on their Android device. Applications that include links to purchase and download other apps cannot contain URLs connecting to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) rival Android Market, the source adds.

Screenshots of the Amazon Appstore for Android that leaked last week indicate the store will sell some applications for less than the prices offered at Android Market. After visiting the URL www.amazon.com/apps (which now redirects to the Amazon homepage), Android News discovered an active site featuring 48 applications for sale, several at prices below their Android Market list price. When the AmazonMP3 digital music store launched in 2007, the online retailer took a similar approach, selling songs at discounted prices compared to Apple's pacesetting iTunes storefront.

The screenshots also indicate that Amazon will offer several apps presently unavailable on Android Market, including Call of Duty: Force Recon. Game developer Rovio Mobile has confirmed it is teaming with Amazon to introduce Angry Birds Rio, a version of its smash franchise available exclusively from the Appstore for Android. The store is also slated to feature ad-free versions of Angry Birds and Angry Birds Seasons.

Amazon.com launched its Appstore Developer Portal in early January, officially confirming its long-rumored plans to roll out an Android application storefront. Applications available in the Amazon Appstore for Android will operate on all smartphones and tablets running Android 1.6 and above; Amazon promises a series of automated marketing features extending its signature product recommendation engine to mobile software merchandising, as well as a Bestsellers section to further improve consumer discovery. In addition, Amazon will test all apps before introducing them to the store, guaranteeing a positive user experience and protecting consumers from malware and other potentially harmful situations. Developers will receive a 70 percent cut of all revenues.  

Earlier this month, Amazon.com revealed the Appstore for Android will feature a digital locker solution mirroring the "buy once, read anywhere" concept underlying its Kindle ereader platform. Consumers who purchase applications from the store will retain the rights to access that app in the event they replace their current Android device or upgrade to a new unit--beyond consumer benefits, Amazon states that the digital locker service also will work in tandem with its digital rights management solution to address developer concerns over unauthorized software copying and distribution. Developers, however, are not required to apply Amazon's DRM solution to their Appstore for Android submissions. 

For more:
- read this Bloomberg article

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