Apple and Amazon have ended their long-running lawsuit over the right to use the 'app store' trademark.
The dispute began in March 2011, when the online retail giant launched the Amazon Appstore. The store allows users to purchase and download Android apps for smartphones and tablets including Amazon's own Kindle Fire device. Apple launched the app store trademark lawsuit in the same month, claiming the name could mislead customers and developers into thinking it was "sponsored or approved by Apple".
Meanwhile Amazon argued the term was too generic to be a trademark, pointing out the phrase had slipped into common usage; even Apple execs Steve Jobs and Tim Cook had referred to rivals services as 'app stores'.
The case was dismissed in California yesterday ahead of a trial scheduled for August. Apple's decision to drop the lawsuit means Amazon is free to continue using the name.
Explaining the decision to abandon the case, Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet said:
"We no longer see a need to pursue our case. With more than 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads, customers know where they can purchase their favourite apps."
Five years of the app store
The decision coincides with the fifth birthday of Apple's app store this week, which is being celebrated with five free apps and five free games being offered to users. It was launched with just 500 apps on 9 July 2008, to tie in with iOS2 and the iPhone 3G. While many see the system as revolutionary, and Apple CEO Tim Cook claiming the app store has "fundamentally changed the world", others - including Microsoft - have criticised the 30 per cent cut Apple takes from all app revenues.
Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, commented: "The growth of the app store in just five years has been incredible. The fact they've now dropped the trademark lawsuit shows they have realised it doesn't matter what it's called - it's the default way to download iOS apps, and iOS has a huge market share, so its success hinges on much more than a name."