Linguists in war of words over Apple App store trademark claim

Opinion

Linguists in war of words over Apple App store trademark claim

Do you ever get the feeling some companies just have too much money for their own good? And that maybe they could be using it to better purpose than lining lawyers' pockets? Microsoft and Apple are currently embroiled in a fairly ridiculous court case over whether Apple should be allowed to trademark the phrase "App Store".

In the latest salvo, Microsoft has continued its opposition to Apple with testimony from linguist, Dr Ronald R Butters, PhD, arguing that app store just means "store at which apps are offered for sale". Butters has been employed to to refute testimony for Apple by Dr Robert A. Leonard, PhD, which argued App Store was a proper noun that had become associated with Apple. Or something like that. It's all a bit complicated, semantic even. 

As an aside, it's funny how both linguists have a middle initial in their name - do you think that's something common to linguists or only to linguists that provide expert testimony to computer companies engaged in trademark rows?

Quite why a company that trademarked the word Windows should have an issue with a company that has trademarked the word Apple seeking to do the same for App Store is a bit odd. Was Microsoft planning to follow in Apple's footsteps by launching its own "store at which apps are offered for sale" and calling it the App Store?

A bit of common sense might have been better employed from both sides rather than paying lawyers and linguists. Sadly, there isn't an app for that.


This was first published in March 2011

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