Without any form of official clarification, it's generally understood by most people that, when the phrase 'app store' is prefixed by capital letters, it refers to Apple's all conquering App Store for iOS.
Conversely, when written without any kind of capitalisation, typing 'app store' can refer to any marketplace of the writer's choosing.
Apple's recent attempts to trademark the term 'app store', however, threaten to undermine this delicate balance in Microsoft's view, with Yahoo! revealing the Redmond giant has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to reject its rival's claims on the phrase.
Apple began its claims back in 2008, claiming ownership of the term when used to describe "retail store services featuring computer software provided via the internet and other computer and electronic communication networks".
If successful, such a trademark would naturally land any of Apple's rivals attempting to apply the phrase to their own mobile marketplace in especially hot water.
It's for that very reason that Microsoft has decided to challenge the claim, arguing that its use is already too widespread as a general term within the industry to hand Apple control.
"'App store' is a generic name that Apple should not be permitted to usurp for its exclusive use," claims Microsoft.
"Competitors should be free to use 'app store' to identify their own stores and the services offered in conjunction with those stores."
Microsoft has even cited Apple CEO Steve Jobs' use of the phrase to describe rival Android marketplaces developed by Amazon, Verizon and Vodafone in an interview to justify its stance.
Trademark timesIt has the feel of a particularly personal battle, given Microsoft itself hasn't attempted to use the term 'app store' in any of its own products Windows Phone 7's app platform dubbed 'Marketplace'.
The challenge, however, does come at a time when trademark claims within the industry are generating a fair amount of bad feeling.
Following on from Edge Games' long-winded and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to block the use of the word 'edge' in game names, Doodle Jump developer Lima Sky has trying to get developers of games with Doodle in their title to rename them, although Lima Sky's Igor Pusenjak has since gone on record to deny it's trying to trademark the term 'doodle' for games.
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.
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