Amazon notches partial win over Apple in trademark lawsuit

Apple alleges Amazon's "Appstore" name is too close to its own "App Store"

A U.S. federal judge ruled Wednesday that Amazon.com did not mislead consumers by calling its own applications marketplace the "Appstore," a name that Apple alleged is too similar to its own "App Store."

Apple asked Amazon three times in early 2011 to not use the Appstore name as Amazon edged closer to launching its application download service, according to a court document. Apple sued on March 18, 2011, four days before Amazon launched "Appstore for Android."

In a complaint amended in November, Apple alleged six causes of action for the lawsuit: trademark infringement and dilution under the Lanham Act, common law trademark infringement, dilution under the California Business and Professions Code, unfair competition and false advertising.

Amazon filed a motion for a partial summary judgement on Sept. 26 to dismiss the claim of false advertising, which was granted by U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton. Apple had argued that Amazon's use of the term would cause people to associate its own store with "the inferior qualities of Amazon's service."

The Internet company countered that the summary judgement should be granted since Apple did not identify a single false statement made by the company in describing its Appstore for Android. Apple conceded it had no evidence of a false statement, but argued that a false statement could be implied under the Lanham Act, a federal act concerning trademark infringement.

Hamilton wrote that the mere use by Amazon of "Appstore" to describe a site for purchasing applications could not be construed as meaning the site has the same nature or quality as that of Apple's App Store.

"Apple has failed to establish that Amazon made any false statement (express or implied) of fact that actually deceived or had the tendency to deceive a substantial segment of its audience," Hamilton wrote in her nine-page judgement.

The case, which is being heard in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, will continue on Apple's remaining five claims.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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