Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Jun 2011 22:46 UTC
In the News As we reported earlier this week, Apple is busy sending out cease and desist letters to small, defenceless projects to defend its trademark application (it doesn't actually own the trademark yet) for 'app store'. This has prompted many a discussion over the trademarkability of such a generic term, and over the origins of the abbreviation 'app'. Who came up with it? How old is it? To my surprise - the abbreviation is much older than you'd think, and in a way, it illustrates quite well the demise of the programmer. What? Read on.
Order by: Score:
v This is a red herring
by mkone on Fri 24th Jun 2011 23:18 UTC
RE: This is a red herring
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 24th Jun 2011 23:22 UTC in reply to "This is a red herring"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Apple is not trademarking app. They are trademarking "App Store". They are not disallowing anyone calling their apps "apps". If App Store is such an obvious name, why was no one using it before. Apple has popularised the "App Store" moniker, and they want to be the only ones reaping the benefit. This is such a non issue. When it comes to computing, there are real issue, like lock-in, interoperability etc that need addressed, not the name someone gives to their store.


Please go back and read the first paragraph after the teaser kthnxbi.

Reply Score: 3

RE: This is a red herring
by _txf_ on Fri 24th Jun 2011 23:25 UTC in reply to "This is a red herring"
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

Apple is not trademarking app. They are trademarking "App Store". They are not disallowing anyone calling their apps "apps".


Go see the comments in the other article for other peoples opinions on that logical fallacy.

But to add my own... Why can't I trademark "Book Store" or any other similar term?

Reply Score: 8

RE[2]: This is a red herring
by MOS6510 on Sat 25th Jun 2011 06:11 UTC in reply to "RE: This is a red herring"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Did you popularize this term then?

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: This is a red herring
by Neolander on Sat 25th Jun 2011 06:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: This is a red herring"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

The question is interesting nonetheless.

Can a company legally use a trademark on a word or expression that has become the commonplace way of describing a concept ?

As an example, I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that in the UK, people don't use "to vacuum clean" all so often. To describe the action of using a powerful electric pump to suck up everything in the floor of a room*, "to hoover" is preferred. Should the Hoover Company have the right to sue all illegal uses of the term ?




* And this reminds me of a webcomic gag about a "suck for a buck" sign and a messy room =_= I spend too much time on the internet.

Edited 2011-06-25 06:45 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: This is a red herring
by rhavyn on Sat 25th Jun 2011 06:53 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: This is a red herring"
rhavyn Member since:
2005-07-06

Should the Hoover Company have the right to sue all illegal uses of the term ?


Yes or they risk their trademark becoming genericized and potentially losing it. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genericized_trademark and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark_dilution to understand why a company must defend it's trademarks and marks it would like to use as trademarks if it wants to keep them.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: This is a red herring
by Neolander on Sat 25th Jun 2011 07:06 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: This is a red herring"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Well, that page which you provide has some good examples of what I'm meaning by "should they have the right?".

I'm personally happy that I can use the short and convenient "aspirin" instead of "acetylsalicylic acid", no matter who actually manufactures it. Excessive trademarking, on the other hand, tends to encourage putting lots of different names on the same thing. Like Doliprane, Efferalgan, etc... are all different trademarks on the same old paracetamol.

Question is : which would you prefer, given the choice ? Having the right to call every proprietary software repository "app store", or sticking with "proprietary software repository" as a generic name (which is as complicated as any generic name gets) and a myriad of trademarked names for the same thing ?

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: This is a red herring
by bassbeast on Sun 26th Jun 2011 07:10 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: This is a red herring"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Uhhh...you mean tylenol? as that is what everyone in the states calls it no matter who makes it, same as with aspirin. As for TFA this is stupid. It isn't like chromebook or some other word cooked up by a company like Tylenol, this is too common as dirt words put side by side. Does this mean I can own any word as long as I put it with another common word that hasn't been put together yet, like "laptop store" or "computer shop"? This is just nuts.

Besides it isn't like anyone is gonna be able to confuse Apple's minimalist utopia with something made by Amazon, you can't get any farther apart when it comes to aesthetics. Same thing with that stupid Samsung lawsuit, nobody is gonna confuse a Samsung phone for an Apple one, as Apple is all about the pretty while the Samsung will be just another black square. Finally living next to an Apple centric college I can tell you talking to students the Apple name is a status thing, so buying a Samsung simply wouldn't give the appropriate response. It would be like saying putting a "my other car is a Ferrari" sticker on a Honda equals actually having a Ferrari.

I just wonder if all this craziness is due to Steve being ill. It seemed like they were mainly focused on owning new markets when Steve was around but now that he is sick it is almost like the other potential next CEOs are trying to jockey for position by seeing who can bring in the most cash by being a douche. while I don't wish the man ill not having a serious plan for his replacement will come back to bite Apple in the butt, as I have a feeling when Steve goes it'll be the Pepsi guy all over again. Between the lawsuit stupidity, the "don't say malware" stupidity, and the burning of the final cut customers, it seems like that company simply can't do right when Steve isn't there.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: This is a red herring
by JAlexoid on Sat 25th Jun 2011 09:39 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: This is a red herring"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Since trademarks are not global in essence, hoover is a generic term in UK already. It's just not revoked, formally. Because that is done by a judge.

http://www.mancunium-ip.co.uk/articles/Postregistration.pdf
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3006486.stm

Edited 2011-06-25 09:40 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: This is a red herring
by WereCatf on Sat 25th Jun 2011 04:55 UTC in reply to "This is a red herring"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Apple is not trademarking app. They are trademarking "App Store". They are not disallowing anyone calling their apps "apps". If App Store is such an obvious name, why was no one using it before. Apple has popularised the "App Store" moniker, and they want to be the only ones reaping the benefit. This is such a non issue. When it comes to computing, there are real issue, like lock-in, interoperability etc that need addressed, not the name someone gives to their store.


To give a simple yet exactly equally obvious example: should I be able to just go out and trademark "Shopping Mall" as my own?

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: This is a red herring
by Glynser on Tue 28th Jun 2011 12:15 UTC in reply to "RE: This is a red herring"
Glynser Member since:
2007-11-29

It is not the same.

There have been tons of shopping malls around (and book stores, computer shops, food stores, etc to all those other commentors), so it's obvious you can't take the term as a trademark for shopping malls.

But have you EVER seen an app store before?

There was never an "app store", no one ever used the term "app store", so one can definitely invent the name "App Store" and use it for his newly created "app store". Those were "download portals" before, or whatever you called them, but certainly not "app stores".

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: This is a red herring
by tupp on Tue 28th Jun 2011 17:20 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: This is a red herring"
tupp Member since:
2006-11-12

But have you EVER seen an app store before?

There was never an "app store", no one ever used the term "app store", so one can definitely invent the name "App Store" and use it for his newly created "app store". Those were "download portals" before, or whatever you called them, but certainly not "app stores".

Wow...

The basic difference between most of the Internet "download portals" and the Iphone app store is that one has to pay for apps in the Iphone app store. These "portals" are commonly called "repositories" in the Linux/BSD world, and they predate the Iphone app store by at least a decade.

Another difference between the Iphone app store and Linux/BSD repositories is the way in which the apps are accepted and maintained, but it is not necessary to go into that discussion here.

However, there were Linux app stores in which the user paid for the apps in the repository. The most notable one was Lindows/Linspire's "Click-N-Run": http://www.urtech.ca/2011/03/apple-you-didnt-invent-the-app-store/

The Click-N-Run app store predates Apple's attempt by at least five years, with 9 million applications installed from a library of more than 45,000 titles.

So, a Linux, paying app store had been invented (and even "popularized") years before the Iphone app store.

Edited 2011-06-28 17:23 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: This is a red herring
by Alfman on Tue 28th Jun 2011 17:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: This is a red herring"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

"But have you EVER seen an app store before?"

I think your a little too close to apple to see the big picture, let's try something else:

Have you ever seen a wig store before?
If wigs were to come in vogue again, it would be ridiculous to grant exclusive rights to the generic term "wig store" such that all the merchants who want to sell wigs would be unable to use the most obvious term to describe their store.

They'd have to play stupid games to try and avoid the generic terms which customers would most likely try to look them up under. No entity should be entitled to use generic terms exclusively.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: This is a red herring
by Alfman on Tue 28th Jun 2011 19:48 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: This is a red herring"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Very good, I wasn't implying that none existed.

I did a search myself for "wig store" prior to posting and, like you, I found some results for wig stores going by other proper names.

Holywood Wigs IS-A wig store.
Outfitter Wig IS-A wig store.
The Wig Company IS-A wig store.
Alfman Wigs IS-A wig store.

If a single player were to become dominant and then claim exclusive rights to the generic term "wig store", then it causes a great deal of damage to other wig stores and only causes more customer confusion.

The point is they should all be allowed to call themselves wig stores generically since that actually describes what they sell. They should all come up in generic searches for "wig store".

Edited 2011-06-28 19:51 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by _txf_
by _txf_ on Fri 24th Jun 2011 23:20 UTC
_txf_
Member since:
2008-03-17

"'App', then, illustrates the demise of the programmer - the programmers are no longer calling the shots. Marketing and legal do."

I suspect that this is one of the reasons the osnews crowd tends to favour companies like google versus companies like apple or microsoft (to a lesser extent) simply because the opinions of the programmers in a company like google are much closer and more accessible to the public.

That isn't to say that there isn't a lot of bs coming from google marketing and legal, just that the engineers and programmers at google (also ms) have a much greater voice as a representation of their company. Apple which strives to control everything and shows its public persona via very specific channels leading hiding a lot of aspects of the company from the likes of us, who, appreciate their products simply fail to see the people behind them and as such can only assume that marketing and legal are in charge (something that we see every day).

Reply Score: 7

RE: Comment by _txf_
by Tuishimi on Sat 25th Jun 2011 15:40 UTC in reply to "Comment by _txf_"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Remember that short by Monty Python about the insurance (I think it was) company where it was all old men in chains... then eventually they break free and pirate everyone else...

I sometimes envision the hidden aspect of Apple like the pre-pirate version of those men/that company...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by _txf_
by Neolander on Sat 25th Jun 2011 16:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by _txf_"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

It was "The Crimson Permanent Assurance", at the beginning of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. One can easily find it on YouTube, sliced in parts. Awesomeness turned into a short. And an interesting underlying criticism.

Edited 2011-06-25 16:19 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Programmers & App Store
by fran on Fri 24th Jun 2011 23:56 UTC
fran
Member since:
2010-08-06

Apple has lost its "App Store" trademark case on another front against Amazon.
Seems App is to colloquial. Even in combination with store.
It would be like trade marking "Food Store"
http://channel.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=30948

Programmers are a booming profession of rising importance again and increasingly used to fill management positions. Below a link on a Microsoft initiative.
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/more-engineers-at-the-top-just-...

Not to speak of meritocracy structures in Foss and Linux.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Liskat
by Liskat on Sat 25th Jun 2011 01:28 UTC
Liskat
Member since:
2011-06-11

You should be able to trademark letters, like the letter 'i'. I honestly think these systems were put in place to protect one, but abuse always seem to happen.

Edited 2011-06-25 01:31 UTC

Reply Score: 1

1983
by earksiinni on Sat 25th Jun 2011 02:37 UTC
earksiinni
Member since:
2009-03-27
RE: 1983
by earksiinni on Sat 25th Jun 2011 03:03 UTC in reply to "1983"
earksiinni Member since:
2009-03-27

Mind you, that's the oldest instance I could find of "app" used as an independent word in English (using a very cursory search of library catalog entry titles). Its use as an actual abbreviation goes way back, even into medieval Latin, but it has traditionally referred to "appendix" rather than "application".

Reply Score: 2

v ?????
by Kivada on Sat 25th Jun 2011 04:45 UTC
Awesome
by runjorel on Sat 25th Jun 2011 15:50 UTC
runjorel
Member since:
2009-02-09

Please forgive me for not leaving a comment based on the article content. However, I just have to say, Thom, it's amazing me to me that you can look at the word 'app' and write a whole essay pertaining to it while barely divulging into the whole trademark issue. I really appreciate the time and thought you put into things like this and who knew the word 'app' went all the way back to the 80s. Crazy. Good article!

Reply Score: 1

I think OS News should sue
by Jennimc on Sat 25th Jun 2011 16:51 UTC
Jennimc
Member since:
2011-06-22

I think OS News should sue all the other media outlets out there because they have the word "news" in their title.

(Equally relevant)

Reply Score: 1

RE: I think OS News should sue
by Alfman on Sat 25th Jun 2011 18:59 UTC in reply to "I think OS News should sue"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Jennimc,

"I think OS News should sue all the other media outlets out there because they have the word 'news' in their title.
(Equally relevant)"

Hahaha! The trouble with this is that OSNews is not a 600lb guerrilla; nobody will listen.

Reply Score: 2

Killer App
by codejockey on Sat 25th Jun 2011 20:13 UTC
codejockey
Member since:
2010-12-31

The first time I recall hearing "killer app" was in reference to VisiCalc; software so compelling it drove sales of the computer hardware to run it. Ironic that it drove sales of Apple II computers. Seems Apple is just retreading familiar ground promoting apps to drive iPhone sales. But VisiCalc was out in 1979, pre-1981. Per Wikipedia, even this was predated by use of the term to refer to Space Invaders in 1978...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_application

Edited 2011-06-25 20:15 UTC

Reply Score: 1

TL;DR
by AnythingButVista on Mon 27th Jun 2011 17:28 UTC
AnythingButVista
Member since:
2008-08-27

Too long; DID read.

This is one of the best articles I have read on the Internet in a loooong time! Great work!

Reply Score: 1

The Jargon File
by jabbotts on Tue 28th Jun 2011 12:16 UTC
jabbotts
Member since:
2007-09-06

It's listed in The Jargon File also though with no date of earliest usage.

http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/A/app.html

Reply Score: 2

RE: The Jargon File
by MrWeeble on Wed 29th Jun 2011 13:30 UTC in reply to "The Jargon File"
MrWeeble Member since:
2007-04-18

That entry dates back to the June 1990 version of the Jargon File [1]

The entry for "Killer App" (added to the Jargon file in July 1996 [2]) dates the usage of that term to the "mid 1980s"

[1] http://www.catb.org/jargon/oldversions/jarg211.txt
[2] http://www.catb.org/jargon/oldversions/jarg400.txt

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: The Jargon File
by jabbotts on Wed 29th Jun 2011 15:15 UTC in reply to "RE: The Jargon File"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

I'm suddenly seeing rockets and missiles overlayed on an incredibly realistic starfield. ;)

Reply Score: 2