Apple loses appeal to trademark the term ‘app store’ in Australia

Apple cannot exclusively use the term “app store” in Australia after the Australian Federal Court rejected an appeal by the American technology giant to trademark the term.

In 2013 the Registrar of Trade Marks rejected the registration of Apple’s “app store” trademark as it was too descriptive – it was originally filed by the tech giant in 2008. Apple decided to appeal the decision in the Federal Court but it was dismissed by Justice David Yates.

The ruling means that Apple can still continue to use the term “app store”, but it does not have the right to prevent others from using it in Australia.

“Apple has not established that, because of the extent to which it has used the [trade]mark before the filing date, it does distinguish the designated services as being Apple’s services,” Justice David Yates said.

“It follows that APP STORE must be taken as not being capable of distinguishing the designated services as Apple’s services. The application must, therefore, be rejected.”

Apple argued that the term had been coined by the company and that it was not used before Apple created the store to sell and download applications on its iPhone and iPad devices.

“It may well be that, because of the ubiquity of handheld ‘smart’ devices, the word ‘app’ has, over time, come to be more closely identified with computer applications used on such devices,” the judge said.

“But the changing patterns of commerce and consumer preference both before and after 2008 do not mean that, at the time that Apple launched its App Store service and, more particularly, at the time it applied for the mark, it had coined a new word “app” or had given that word a changed meaning.”