Villing & Company

Competitive Brand Names: The Importance of Planning Ahead

What do you call a store that sells apps? Before you say “app store,” realize that you’ll be infringing on an Apple trademark.

That’s right.

According to Apple (and the US Trademark Office), the term “App Store” is something that can only be used to describe Apple’s store for apps. Want to download apps for an Android or Blackberry device? Well, I’m afraid you won’t be able to find them in an app store...maybe you should look for a “marketplace” of some kind.

Clearly this kind of thing keeps trademark lawyers well fed, but to the rest of us it just seems ridiculous. Both Amazon and Microsoft have separately challenged the trademark, and I’d be pretty surprised if it holds up.

Regardless of how the legal maneuvering turns out, however, one thing is clear: if Apple really wanted to have exclusive rights to the name of the store they’ve been aggressively promoting, they should have picked a different name.

This is a good thing to remember for every marketer when launching a new product or service. The name is important. You not only need to consider trademark and copyright issues, but it’s also important to think through your search engine placement strategy.

You shouldn’t wait until you’ve spent a small fortune promoting the name to think about these things, because it may be too late. My guess is that Apple will learn this the hard way.

Filed Under: branding

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