Amazon Appstore Opens Can of Copyright Questions

By March 23, 2011
First day of Amazon's Appstore

The online megastore has launched its own version of the Android App Market, and in so doing provoking Apple, who has in turn provoked Microsoft, all related to legality of what to call their proprietary places for users to purchase and download software for their mobile devices. launched its own mobile application market today called the Appstore for Android, and owners of Google's mobile OS devices can download it now. An alternative for the native App Market that has been used until now, Amazon's Appstore features a paid app for free every day, and on its inaugural day that app is Angry Birds Rio, usually 99 cents.

Appstore will be powered by Amazon's recommendation engine once members use its services a few times. When it was announced a few months ago, interest was taken in Amazon's unique payment structure - developers set a preferred price, which can be changed by Amazon, but developers get a minimum percentage of their preferred price. So when Amazon chooses a paid app for its feature of the day, as is the case with Angry Birds Rio, developers still get some cash.

Launching with 3,800 apps, all carriers can download from the Appstore, except for AT&T. Everyone else can visit the front page of the Appstore and enter their cell number. Clicking the text message link prompts download, install and open prompts, if a user's settings allow for non-App Market installs.

The launch of this service has prompted Apple to leverage its copyright on the App Store phrase. As GigaOm quotes lawyer Evan Brown of Internet Cases, because Apple's App Store has been out for years and has become something of an industry standard, it could be considered "an important exception to the rule of no trademark rights for descriptive terms, and this exception is probably what Apple is relying on: the notion of 'acquired distinctiveness.'"

This "acquired distinctiveness" could be dissolved if Microsoft's suit against Apple for opposing that trademark registration. But the launch of the first technically redundant marketplace for Google's mobile operating system has queued up this collection of mobile app propriety issues.

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