Apple Tells Australian Court: We Invented Apps

App-Store-search

Did Apple invent the “app”?

In terms of coining the word — or coming up with the idea of software — the obvious answer is that of course they didn’t.

But did Apple’s approach to apps — seen most readily through the type of applications sold through its App Store — forever change what the typical user thinks of when they hear the word?

That’s exactly what Apple is arguing in a case brought against against the Registrar of Trademarks, currently taking place in the Australian Federal Court.

Apple took the registrar to court back in March this year, after the trademark for the term “App Store” was revoked following its initial accepted. Since then, Apple has lost two appeals: firstly by the trademark examiner, and then by the Australian Trade Marks Office.

Apple counsel is arguing that although the term “app” existed before Apple sought to trademark “App Store” back in 2008, Apple itself had changed the definition of the word through the release of the iPhone.

“The fact that one of its components — app — was as a stand alone word, itself in something of a transition at the date of the filing of the application,” Apple counsel Ron Webb said.

He continued to argue that, even though there are numerous “metaphorical uses” of the word “app”, none of these have the same practical meaning users now think of when considering the term.

“We say that must reflect back to the filing date in 2008 and one can see that at that time, it had some layer of meaning that wasn’t purely application software,” Webb continued.

“The use within [Killer App] expressly meant ‘marketing strategies deployed in the real world for marketing purposes.”

Evidence from Google Trends points to the fact that App Store gained more prominence after June 2008, he said.

“It demonstrates people are seeing the Apple marketing, and looking for the great new service of Apple.”

The case continues.

  • trex67

    As far back as I can remember (at least from the early 90’s) the Mac had “Applications” and PCs had “Programs.” Most if not all Mac users referred to applications as “apps.” So the argument can be made (perhaps erroneously) that Apple invented “Apps.”

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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