Amazon Appstore goes live, as does Apple lawsuit

by Phil Hornshaw

Amazon (AMZN) is big in the news today as it launches its new Android app store, but Apple (AAPL) isn’t happy about it.

The new venue for buying apps for Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system is called the Amazon Appstore, which is really close to the name of Apple’s iTunes App Store. The name “App Store” is one that Apple has trademarked, and so it has launched a lawsuit over the name just as Amazon goes live, according to Bloomberg.

Amazon is refusing to comment about the pending litigation, but it obviously isn’t taking the claim too seriously, or at least isn’t making any changes until it is being forced. Meanwhile, Apple claims it has contacted Amazon three different times in order to get the company to let go of the use of the “Appstore” name.

The Bloomberg story outlines some portions of the claim, which states that Apple feels Amazon has illegally used the App Store name:

“Amazon has unlawfully used the App Store mark to solicit software developers throughout the United States,” Apple claimed.... “We’ve asked Amazon not to copy the App Store name because it will confuse and mislead customers,” said Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple.

Apple’s trademark isn’t air-tight, though: Microsoft (MSFT) has already challenged it and is awaiting a ruling from an appeals board. That claim says that the term “app store” is too broad and generic for any one company to own it.

For Amazon’s part, it doesn’t seem fazed by Apple’s claims at all, and it appears it could be a contender in the app space for Android. Already, Amazon has snagged a huge exclusive deal -- Rovio Mobile’s new Angry Birds Rio, which rolled out in the iTunes App Store last night but isn’t available in Google’s Android Market. The store also launches with 3,800 apps, which is a far cry from Apple’s count of around 350,000, but still seems pretty decent for a new arrival.

On the Apple side of the equation is a vested interest to continue to be the biggest player in the mobile sphere. The company announced today it would begin selling its new iPad 2 in 25 additional countries start March 25. The “app store” debate seems like a fairly minor thing to be concerned about, but owning it allows Apple to continue to cultivate an image of being the leader in the space, regardless of what Google, Microsoft, Amazon or anyone else has to say about it.